6 Great Ways to Spend the Day at Ka Makana Ali‘i in Kapolei
Families love Kapolei. Foodies love Kapolei. But, will two (townie) fashion editors feel the same? Only a 45-minute drive will tell.
Photos: Aaron K. Yoshino
We have to admit, the new “it” town seems sooo far away. And, get ready to roll your eyes, we had to use Google Maps to get there. We both grew up on O‘ahu’s east side, so Alaz (Moana) was the farthest point we had to go, until the first Forever 21 opened in Pearlridge. But, over the years, we’ve expanded our shopping trips (Wahiawā has a few surprises), and this week we traveled to Kapolei for an adventurous West Side story.
First stop: Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
The heat is real in Kapolei. Our office is colder than the Costco refrigerated section, so when we get out into the real world, the sunshine feels amazing. But, here, it felt like a blanket of hot air was following us everywhere. To cool off before we started stomping the shopping floors, we grabbed some scoops at Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats. The sweets shop is well known for its halo halo, but we were most excited about its off-the-beaten-path ice cream flavors, which range from avocado to cashew langka and queso queso.
Stacey: I got the flagship ube flavor. The fun Grimace-y color caught my attention, but after a sampling, the creamy, almost-Okinawan-sweet-potato-like flavor was surprisingly refreshing.
Brie: I’m a sucker for anything guava and Magnolia’s was nice and light, not too sweet.
Second stop: Forever 21 Red
We read that a Forever 21 Red is supposed to have women’s, men’s and kid’s clothing, which is why we were excited to check out this particular F21. Side note: We needed to grab a gift for a co-worker’s daughter. But, this location did not have kid’s fashions (broken heart emoji). However, it did have a ton of super fabulous $5 finds that aren’t just for young, broke high school kids.
Stacey: I have fall sunnies on the brain, especially the big, round ones that take over your face. When I saw the transparent, yellow pair, I couldn’t resist. And, even though it’s the love child of Willy Wonka and John Lennon, I still love it!
Brie: If you’re looking to get in on the big ’90s trend, this is the place to go—it’s got slip dresses, velvet chokers and flannel shirts galore. This Cluelessesque mini backpack and beret are perfect for the ’90s-themed bash I’m going to this weekend.
Third stop: H&M
Since our search for the cool keiki gift failed at F21, we remembered that this particular H&M carries mini fashions for boys and gals. We did find: tons of fluffy tutus, oodles of make-believe accessories, stacks of silly graphic shirts, plenty of wacky patterns and a gift that will guarantee us top spot on the best aunties list.
Stacey: I love seeing the latest trends in itty bitty sizes. My fave find was a beanie that said, “all we need is fun.” Couldn’t agree more.
Brie: Sometimes kid fashions can come off a little too cutesy-wootsy, so I was stoked to find a ton of styles that were adorable and hip at the same time. Pint-size parrots? Yes please!
Fourth stop: Bonchon Chicken
There’s been a lot of chirping about Bonchon Chicken. We heard that we couldn’t just wing it: We needed to put in our order two hours before our normal chow time and we had to order the legendary spicy chicken wings. We did both. By the time lunch rolled around, we were ready to get our taste buds firing and fingers dirty.
Stacey: The pieces were cracklin’ crispy, coated with a gooey, umami glaze and packed a punch of heat. Would I drive the distance for these wings? No. Would I stop by and grab some if I was in the neighborhood? Absolutely.
Brie: My heat tolerance is embarrassingly low—Taco Bell mild sauce is spicy to me. I mostly skipped the fire sticks, save for one “just try it” bite that resulted in my guzzling an entire cup of soda. The super yummy bibimbap with its savory bulgogi was more my speed.
Fifth stop: No‘eau Designers
Sometimes when we’re exploring towns we come across some hidden gems. Case in point, No‘eau Designers. This shop is a treasure trove of locally made goodies, fashions and crafts. In stock were Izzy and Luke keiki tees, Kahulale‘a clutches, and few new discoveries including Hazel Lee’s rice bag totes and Wehiwa’s lauhala fedoras.
Stacey: I love a shop that purely supports local designers, crafters and makers. It’s awesome because we uncover fresh, exciting things to write about and connect with new creatives in the industry.
Brie: This is a great spot for locally designed gifts. Kawehi Creations’ geometric air-plant holders and poppy, hand-illustrated magnets, and Kū I Ke Kaila’s buttery-soft turbies (turban-inspired headbands) are all on my must-buy list.
Last stop: Infinitea
We treated our hardworking photographer, Aaron, to a cold one before our long drive home.