Whole Foods Kailua: First look

The Honolulu Rush has descended on the new Kailua Whole Foods.

On Wednesday, opening day, more than 600 people went through the store in the first hour. I joined the masses yesterday.

Overhead while browsing:
"Have you seen the seafood? It's beautiful!"
"$3 for a slice of pizza? What the f—?!"
"Chocolate covered papaya? Is this real life?"
"I've already come to the store four times!"

Some of my favorite features, which are unique to the Kailua Whole Foods:

Beer and wine bar: Happy hour (from 4 to 6 p.m. everyday) offers $2 beer and $2 slices of pizza. Some of the beers on tap include Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter and Mana Wheat. Enjoy your food and drinks in the indoor dining area (which is more pleasant than the squished corner in Kahala) or the shaded outdoor patio with comfy lounge seating.

Build your own wok bowl: Load up a bowl with veggies (choose from more than 30 items including kale, spinach, water chestnuts, sugar snap peas) and hand it over the counter where someone will stir fry your ingredients with your choice of protein (tofu, chicken or Maui Cattle Co. beef), sauce (among the choices: teriyaki or lime and garlic) and starch (noodles, brown or white rice). For $8.99, a better deal than the hot/cold food bar at $8.99 a pound (you can really pack the bowl with stuff).

Shave ice with syrups made by Onopops: Just like its pops, the syrups use only local ingredients. Flavors include strawberry, honey shiso, lilkoi and tamarind. Truthfully, if you're a Shimazu diehard, the flavors may not be as sweet and intense as you're used to, but for those looking for a shave ice without artificial flavors or coloring, this is your cup of ice. Make it better with a scoop of Il Gelato.

Whole fish: Whole Foods Kailua has a greater whole fish selection. At the seafood counter, they'll clean and cut your fish however you like. They'll even cook it for you: steamed or sautéed. (Whole Foods Kahala also does this.)

Beer and self-serve poke bar: What more is there to say?

In the grocery section: bring your own container and load up on bulk liquids like canola oil, Braggs Liquid Aminos, Oils of Aloha macadamia oil and Big Island Bee macadamia blossom honey. Also in the bulk section are spices, so you can grab just a teaspoon of curry powder or pink Himalayan salt for that recipe you're trying out. I'm particularly excited about the selection of heirloom beans (I have a weakness for pretty beans): black-and-white Appaloosa beans, mottled brown and tan cranberry beans, coffee-colored Tongues of Fire, speckled Jacob's Cattle Trout beans.

629 Kailua Rd., Kailua, 263-6800, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/kailua