Now You Can Eat Shrimp Raised On-Site at Kualoa Ranch
Move over, oysters. The family-owned ranch in Ka‘a‘awa grows shrimp, too.
It’s no secret that the stretch of Kamehameha Highway from Kahuku to Hale‘iwa is dotted with food trucks and roadside eateries serving plates of buttery garlic shrimp. There’s Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp, where the shrimp is caught every day from the aquaculture ponds behind its red shack, and the popular Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck with its throngs of visitors lining up for the $14 shrimp scampi plate.
But miles before you hit that first shrimp truck, you’ll pass Kualoa Ranch. While this 4,000-acre working ranch is best known (recently, anyway) as the backdrop for many blockbuster films, including Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Kualoa Ranch grows a ton of food. So much so, in fact, the ranch recently revamped its Taste of Kualoa Farm Tour, a 90-minute farm-to-table immersion tour that gives visitors a chance to see and taste the bounty the ranch produces, from the oysters raised in the 153-acre Mōliʻi Fishpond to the variety of fruits that grow along the shoreline.
SEE ALSO: Tour The Food Offerings at Kualoa Ranch
For a few years, the ranch has been raising white shrimp, mostly in earthen ponds on the makai side of the highway. The shrimp is sold frozen at the ranch’s visitor center for $12 a pound and served in restaurants around the island.
About a year ago, Aunty Pat’s Paniolo Café, the restaurant located in the visitor center, started using the ranch-grown shrimp in its garlic shrimp plates ($16)—and they’ve been a hit. You can’t beat fresh shrimp, explains chef Kimo Kaʻuhane.
“Our shrimp is a little sweeter,” says Kaʻuhane, who joined the ranch this year. (He was born and raised in upstate New York and decided to move to Hawai‘i, where his father was from, in 2008.) “I don’t know if it has to do with the way the ponds are set up here, but it’s good. I eat the heads, too. There’s so much flavor in the head.”
The plate comes with 12 pieces of ranch-grown shrimp, sautéed in garlic and butter. The café sells at least 40 plates a day, which translates to about 95 pounds of shrimp every five days. “It’s crazy,” he says.
Ka‘uhane is working on a spicy marinade, maybe using a kim chee base. “I don’t want to do it the same way as everyone else,” he says.
The café serves other foods grown at the ranch, too, including beef, tilapia, eggs and fruits.
“I never knew Kualoa Ranch to be a food place, but we’re going to turn that around,” Kaʻuhane says. “I want people to say, ʻLet’s go to Kualoa Ranch for lunch.’”
49-560 Kamehameha Highway, (808) 237-7321, kualoa.com