Bold flavors and playful plates restore a Windward foodie’s confidence in the open-air eatery.
5 Reasons We Love Kaka‘ako’s New Taro Doughnut Truck
Why we stand in line for $4 doughnuts.
When Holey Grail, a Kaua‘i-based doughnut truck with a cult following, began popping up in Kaka‘ako in late summer, doughnut worshipers made the pilgrimage to stand in line. With a name like Holey Grail, it was hard to resist. The enterprise was started in 2018 in Hanalei by siblings Nile and Hana Dreiling, whose quest to create the ultimate doughnut led to what they call original taro doughnuts, the basis of all their doughnut varieties today. Holey Grail quickly rose from an ordinary doughnut stop to a rock star in the Garden Isle doughnut world. Its truck debuted at Ward Village as a weekend pop-up and is now open every day except Monday.
I truly believe people are born loving three things: puppies, kittens and doughnuts. While Holey Grail’s lines on O‘ahu are pretty long and while the doughnuts are spendy at $4 each, here are five more reasons to give them a shot.
Holey Grail’s doughnuts are 100% plant-based, crafted from a proprietary dough mix that starts much the same way poi is made. Locally grown taro is steamed and pounded to begin the fermentation process. When the starch molecules have broken down, they yield a dough that is bound with wheat flour for texture and fried in organic coconut oil. The doughnuts are best enjoyed hot and fresh when the exterior is crisp and the interior is light and fluffy—if you’re an old-fashioned doughnut purist, you’ll appreciate the texture of these rings.
I particularly like that there’s nothing artificial about them. They’re not a vibrant purple, nor do they have unnatural additives to up their visual appeal. They’re just honest and pure, the way a proper doughnut should be.
They totally support local
Holey Grail’s local taro base comes from Pomai Kūlolo in Kailua. The honey on their Hot Single doughnut is sourced from Waianae’s Tolentino Honey. The cacao in the Chocolate Mylk drink comes from Mānoa Chocolate. The gourmet citrus caviar, a.k.a. finger lime, and intensely hot pink dragon fruit are grown by AlohaHoneyBee Family Farm in Kilauea.
The list goes on: Holey Grail strives be hyperlocal in sourcing sustainable fruit and products. Their plan is to expand on their farmer and supplier networks as they grow.
The flavors are out-of-the-box wild
These doughnuts are gorgeous and the flavors follow suit. All Holey Grail doughnuts start off looking and tasting the same, with the neutral savory taro base fried in coconut oil. From there, they are dressed up in one of nearly 60 combinations of glazes and garnishes. Only five flavors are made at a time and can be had a la carte ($4 each) or in a tasting box of four ($15). New seasonal flavors rotate into the box each week, but the Reincarnated (see below) is a permanent fixture.
I tried the following:
- L&L’s Meyer lemon sugar, Tahitian lime curd and finger lime citrus caviar make this is a very pretty doughnut with lip-puckering notes.
- Chocolate Crunch has single-origin Hawaiian chocolate, cacao nibs and sea salt. It is like a dark chocolate bar in doughnut form.
- Strawberry Fields features local strawberry and matcha green tea glazes that are sweet and delicate.
- Reincarnated has maple glaze, smoked coconut chips, Hawaiian sea salt and bacon. It ultimately reminds me that bacon cannot be replaced with anything but bacon.
- Dragonslayer is glazed with local dragon fruit lemonade that’s tart and plays well with the nutty doughnu base.
- Hot Single is dressed simply with Tolentino Honey and flaky sea salt. It’s reminiscent of a slice of warm cornbread with melted honey butter and is my favorite.
If you order one or two doughnuts, bring a container or enjoy them on the spot. If you order three or more, they’ll box them up for you.
The doughnuts pair well with the drinks
There’s no argument when it comes to pairing coffee with doughnuts. No other beverage comes close, especially if you’re balancing out the sweetness with a dark cup of joe. Holey Grail has a custom blend and roast for their beans and serves its coffee on draft. Served black or as a latte made with their house-made nut milk blend, the iced coffee goes down smooth while the latte is rich and filling.
If you’re not a coffee or caffeine drinker, there are options like spiced Holy Chai with black tea and nut milk, and Matcha Prophecy, which blends Mizuba Tea Co.’s ceremonial-grade matcha with nut milk. Chocolate Mylk is a thick blend of coconut, cashew, cacao, maple and sea salt. All are sold iced for $6 each.
They’re here on O‘ahu
Holey Grail’s golden food truck, aptly named Goldie, pops up six days a week at the Diamond Head end of Ward Village Shops. Follow the line of people snaking around the former Pā‘ina Cafe, the space Holey Grail plans to eventually take over. After two years of slinging doughnuts on Kaua‘i, Nile Dreiling made the move to expand the doughnut crusade to O‘ahu while his sister Hana manages the Hanalei location. Over a month after opening, crowds are still forming minutes before opening—so as the old adage goes, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case the original taro doughnut.