We decided to head back "home" to Oahu before heading to Japan. The Missus needed to visit Her parents....and I needed to recharge. I love seeing my in-laws, they truly treat me as if I'm their son. The one problem being, and no offense here, I'm a "townie" by nature....for me finding the kind of places and grindz I like is kind of hard in Ewa Beach and West Oahu.....things are getting better...but for the most part, it's trips to Tanioka's for us. And yet, I wanted something different and special for us....the family, to go out and enjoy. Somehow, I'm still not entirely sure, I came across Kahumana Farms and their Cafe, which serves lunch and....great for us, dinner from 6pm - 8pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Over the last 10 years we've been doing the blog, things have changed, we eat less, still enjoy food, but temper things with more healthy choices. Plus, there's just a sort of "hippie" side to the Missus that has come out the last couple of years......let's put that "high maintenance hippie", have you seen the prices of dried mulberries? Yikes. However, there was just something about this place that seemed right.
The whole Kahumana Farms thing was established by Father Phillip Harmon back in 1974. The farm and cafe reside "out there" down the unpaved roads of Lualualei Homestead Road. The land is fruitful, I've been told that there are more than few archaeological sites in this valley. And the Kahumana Organization supports transitional housing and programs for those with disabilities. A big plus, you're getting "stuffs" grown right on the farm. You can read more about this here at their website and other articles.
I called and made reservations......
Like they say, getting there was half the fun. From what I recall, a lot of the area is Hawaiian Homestead land. I haven't really been down to Waianae in almost 30 years or so.....once upon a time, I drove here weekly for work, but it had been almost forever....ok, let's just say a lifetime. We arrived and walked in the door, past the shop area......the place was doing some decent business. Finding that we had reservations....we got a table in the covered lanai area.
The staff here is very friendly....not polished mind you, but they make up for things with their warmth and friendliness. The menu is written on a chalkboard, one of which is delivered to your table. It's an interesting aggregation of dishes...hummus, Pacific Rim, Indian influences.....
We started with some Kabocha Soup.
The dish we enjoyed the least was the chicken stir fry, which, in spite of the wonderful flavors of the vegetables, had severely over-cooked the chicken.
The Chicken Masala on Brown Rice (yes, brown rice) and stir fried vegetables was very good.
No, I wasn't expecting Punjabi Tandoor, but this was quite good....can I go on about the greens? The "masala inspired" sauce had a bit of zip and nice balanced spice profile....good enough that I actually ate a good bit of brown rice! The chicken was nice and moist on this one.
The Macadamia Nut Pesto with Mahi Mahi was solid.
Call it the "Shandong" influence, but I was not a fan of the noodles, which were kind of brittle and lacking in texture. The "pesto" was very nice, nutty, with a good herb flavor. I'm kind of leary about Mahi Mahi, having worked with it quite a bit in one of my former lives. You need to get it really fresh...it attains a "sour" flavor when at less than optimal freshness. Plus, too many folks just cook it to death....and this one looked unimpressive....until I had a taste...nicely seasoned, moist.....very good! A nice piece of fresh fish prepared simply, but well.
I think it might be hard for folks to understand how a simple salad could be the best dish......
It is, after all, a plate of vegetables.....but let me say, the Missus and I enjoyed this the most. The cucumbers sparkled, crisp, with the flavor of melon...the greens, bitter, herbaceous, taste each separately. The tomatoes were good....but you have to understand, my Mom was from Maui....I still have the flavor of ripe, Kula tomatoes on the brain. The flavor that really got our attention were of the shaved beets, so sweet, so much flavor, I had to ask if they marinated it in any way......the answer? No.......
As I was waiting for everyone to finish "potty duty" after dinner....a gentleman walked up to me and struck up a conversation. He introduced himself as "Robert"...so in retrospect, I assume he is Robert Zuckerman, the Manager/Chef of Kahumana Cafe. He asked us where we hail from.....it was quite obvious, there are the regular customers, and then there were us. It was a wonderful 15 minutes; we had seen kids....well, teenagers eating in the dining room. We were worried these were homeless kids, but no....kids on a 10 day program learning about farming. The young folks we saw gathering a bit later on were the workers, some of which were Woofers, basically a program by which food and housing is provided in exchange for work on the farm. I thoroughly njoyed our conversation and promised to return.
I hope to keep that promise........I'm looking forward to my next salad!
86-660 Lualualei Homestead Rd
Waianae, Hi 96792