5 Reasons Foodies Will Love Foodland Farms at Ala Moana

Hawai‘i’s largest grocery retailer opens a brand-new concept for Foodland Farms at Ala Moana Center next week.
A rendering of what the inside of the new Foodland Farms at Ala Moana Center will look like. It opens on Aug. 31.
Photos: Courtesy of Foodland


For many, it’s hard to imagine Ala Moana Center without Foodland.


It was one of the original tenants when the shopping complex opened in 1959 and served the community in and around the center.


But the local grocery retailer closed its doors in December 2014, when the company decided not to renew its lease, leaving longtime customers wondering what could take its place.


Another, even better Foodland, that’s what.


On Aug. 31, the company will unveil a brand-new concept for its Foodland Farms brand. Boldly reimagined and sprawling over more than 47,000 square feet, this new store promises to change the way we think about grocery stores, and offer an alternative to the Whole Foods store that's scheduled to open in nearby Kaka‘ako.


One of the biggest changes from the standard Foodland layout: About half of the new store, if you include the seating for up to 100 people, is devoted to food. (The rest of the store will offer the usual supermarket items.)


Outside the mall where Foodland Farms will be located.


Foodland’s new approach follows national grocery trends. According to the 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report, 85 percent of all adults report they have at least half the household responsibility for grocery shopping. Meaning men and women now share this chose equally—and their shopping habits and needs are different.


“It’s really a quantum leap,” says corporate chef Keoni Chang, who’s been with Foodland for 11 years and helped plan this new concept. “The things that are going on in the Mainland, it’s happening right here, right now. We’re taking the leap forward.”


We got a preview of the store, and a few highlights include thin-crust, Naples-style pizzas baked on site; a sandwich station with elevated options (think chicken katsu sandwich with Asian slaw and furikake aioli); an antipasto bar; new shake-and-take seasonings for Foodland’s popular fried chicken including chirozo spice and maple-brown sugar; an R. Field Wine Co. wine bar serving international beer on draft and wines by the glass; sections devoted to Sugarfina goodies and Bubbies mochi ice cream; and a juice bar and chop shop where you can get ready-to-cook veggies or fresh juices, spa water, aquas frescas and smoothies right in the store.


But here are my Top 5 reasons foodies will love this new store:


The European-style rotisserie


At the market’s grill, where you can get ready-to-eat skewers and furikake-mac-and-cheese-with-Spam, the store will boast a French-style rotisserie featuring roasted meats by the pound. In addition to huli-style chicken, the grill will serve turkey drumsticks, pernil (Puerto Rican roast pork) and pūlehu chicken.


An upgraded bakery with a pastry chef


I can’t think of a grocery store that currently employs a dedicated pastry chef, but this Foodland Farms will have one. Pastry chef Rick Chang, who has worked at Roy’s Restaurant and the Halekūlani, is overseeing an upgraded bakery with fresh-daily doughnuts, tarts, tartlets, savory pastries, cookies and small desserts including tropical panna cottas and rice puddings. “One of the fun things we’re doing is putting in a donut robot, where you can watch us make cake doughnuts,” says Keoni Chang. The bakery will serve warm mini doughnuts all day long, with flavors including liliko‘i, cinnamon sugar and coffee with a caramel glaze.


An even better poke station


Foodland has long been a popular spot for poke aficionados, and this store won’t be any different. Instead of being connected to the seafood section, this poke bar will be prominently situated by itself in the store. In addition to longstanding popular flavors, it will offer new creations including a decadent truffle ‘ahi poke and a dynamite ‘ahi poke topped with a torched wasabi-mayo. The bar will also serve a poke roll—basically, a sheet of nori with a thin layer of rice, veggies and poke rolled like a burrito. Even the musubi offerings will be interesting, with char siu and bulgogi fillings.


HI Steaks and smoked meat


This Foodland Farms will boast the second store with a HI Steaks concept offering its popular steak plate lunches with your choice of sauces—chimichurri, kim chee, barbecue liliko‘i. But this location will have an in-store smoker using kiawe and guava woods to make smoked pipikaula, pork spareribs and chicken thighs. The menu will also feature sandwiches and burgers on brioche buns.


Will-call service


Exclusive to this store—and the ultimate in customer convenience and service—Foodland Farms will employ a full-time concierge on duty and a will-call service to hold your groceries while you shop the rest of the mall. There are 15-minute stalls near the storefront for you to pull up after you’re done with your shopping. And it’s free! That, alone, is worth shopping here.