Editor’s Page: The 2021 Best of HONOLULU Issue
Sometimes it takes almost a decade for an idea to bear fruit. And we think this one is one of the best.
n 2008, Kylie Matsuda-Lum and her husband, Judah Lum, planted some seeds and waited.
When berries showed up on the branches eight years later, they harvested the first açaí ever grown on the 5-acre Kahuku Farms, washed them, took a bite and thought: “We planted the wrong variety.” It turns out, that instead of the sweet blueberry-esque flavor we all know, açaí berries have “kind of a neutral earthy flavor,” Matsuda-Lum says. “It’s got a lot of oils and body in it, but it doesn’t have the punch of berry flavor.” Not to mention that the fruit, which has to be hand-picked from açaí palm trees so tall you need a tractor lift to reach them, had just a thin layer of pulp that was tricky to remove without cracking the huge seeds inside. It took a lot of trial and error, but in 2017, Kahuku Farms debuted what is likely the first Hawai‘i-grown açaí bowl and ran out before the next harvest season started in July. Now, the farm grows enough berries to freeze, then serve all year round, and is waiting for its next batch of palm trees, planted four years ago, to begin blossoming.
Kahuku Farms’ açaí bowl is one of our more than 250 Best of HONOLULU winners for 2021. Some of the honorees are marking 122 years in business (City Mill) while others are the product of pandemic furloughs (Paradise Monarchs). But, as always, from the place to buy fishing equipment to locally designed house dresses, our list is quintessentially local.
Photo: Karen DB Photography
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Read all of these stories in the July-August issue of HONOLULU Magazine. Available on newsstands in July, or purchase the issue at shop.honolulumagazine.com. Subscribe to the print and digital editions now.