Farmers Market Finds: Funky Fresh Spins on Spring Rolls at Kaka‘ako

The Corner Rolls wraps up cheeseburgers, shrimp and avocado into crispy fried spring rolls.

 

Farmers markets are breeding grounds for food innovation and some of Hawai‘i’s most successful restaurants. Frolic’s series spotlights some of these ‘ono finds.

 

The Corner Rolls sampler box

The sampler. Photo: Thomas Obungen

 

What: Nontraditional eggrolls/spring rolls
How much: $8.99 for three pieces, $14.99 six-piece sampler
What market: Kaka‘ako Farmers Market, 919 Ala Moana Blvd.
Vendor schedule: Saturdays 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Instagram: @the.corner.rolls

 

I like to cycle through weekend farmers markets, and I always return with excitement to the Kaka‘ako Farmers Market. Waking up early on a Saturday to walk down there is like waking up on Christmas morning—I never know what I will discover. In March, the market migrated across Ward Avenue into two large lots, one mauka and one makai of Ala Moana Boulevard. With this move came expansion with more retail and food vendors. Last week, a new vendor with a banner advertising handmade rolls caught my attention.

 


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In the shaded makai lot next to the AAFES Building, The Corner Rolls stall cranks out fresh spring rolls. It’s compelling because most are not filled with what you might expect. The punny names hint at what is contained in their crispy wrappers:

  • B.A.E Roll: Bacon and eggs
  • Hawaiian Roll: Ham, mozzarella cheese and pineapple
  • In & Out Roll: Beef and American cheese
  • Let’s Avocuddle Roll: Avocado, sundried tomatoes and red onion
  • Shrimply Irresistible Roll: Shrimp and basil
  • Yes Please Roll: Pork, shrimp, crab, cabbage, carrots, mung bean noodles, mushrooms, celery and onions

 

It happened to be their first market appearance, so I got in on the action and bought a sampler ($14.99) with six savory rolls. It comes with dipping sauces like a Thousand Island-style burger sauce for the In & Out Roll and a sweet chile garlic sauce for the Yes Please and Shrimply Irresistible rolls. A bit pricy for eggrolls, but I discover they’re more than just that.

 

Spring rolls on a plate

Photo: Thomas Obungen

 

The B.A.E. Rolls are a standout: Filled with bacon and eggs, they remind me of a flaky breakfast croissant sandwich. I’d get a few of these ($8.99) to munch on while browsing. The In & Out Roll is tasty with or without the dipping sauce—it’s basically a cheeseburger rolled up in a lumpia wrapper, so what’s not to like? The Shrimply Irresistible is lives up to its name with a herbaceous note of basil despite being the smallest roll in the box. I like the contrast of Let’s Avocuddle’s crispy exterior and creamy center.

 

Yes Please, the most traditional of the lot, was the catalyst for owners Philip and Emery to open The Corner Rolls. The partners relocated to O‘ahu from California right before the pandemic and were out of work, like many of us. Inspired by their parents’ recipes, they turned to making chả giò, Vietnamese spring rolls, and selling them as a side hustle. Friends and customers urged them to make it legit and The Corner Rolls was born.

 


SEE ALSO: Farmers market finds: Kaiser High School PTSA’s amazing Tuesday market


 

The Corner Rolls—named after the act of rolling a wrapper from the corner and their location at corner of the market—evolved into a menu of new and creative eggrolls to Hawai‘i, a virtually untapped market. Let the record reflect: I fully support this venture. The world needs more creative rolls!

 

You can find The Corner Rolls at the Kaka‘ako Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.