How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways—Kauai’s Taro

Kauai has lots of taro fields. Not that the Garden Isle has exclusive claim to them, but the North Shore is considered the best place on the Islands to grow taro. Over half of all poi in Hawaii is made from Kauai taro. Around Hanalei, you drive past the fields on all sides. The largest farm in Hawaii is here (Haraguchi Farm). In Princeville, the Hanalei Valley Overlook has a commanding view of the fields against a spectacular backdrop of waterfalls and mountains, including the twin peaks of Hihimanu.

hanalei overlook
View from Hanalei Overlook (click to enlarge)
taro field
Taro field in Hanalei

Given its prominence on Kauai, it’s no surprise that taro takes center stage. Besides poi at restaurants, there are two businesses that use taro as one of the main ingredients. Taro Ko Factory in Hanapepe makes highly sought after taro (as well as Okinawan sweet potato, regular potato and breadfruit) chips for sale only on its premises, made fresh daily until they run out, which happens daily. Unfortunately for us, we were too late, even if we got there in early afternoon.

Taro chips, Taro Ko Factory (image posted on Yelp by Susan K.)
Taro chips, Taro Ko Factory (image posted on Yelp by Susan K.)

In Hanalei, a food wagon (Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.) uses the corm as an ingredient in many menu items, including hummus, smoothie, veggie burger, even in a vinaigrette that’s served with their Kalua pork salad. It’s also in their famous taro mochi cake, a lightly sweet dessert made dense by the addition of rice flour. Their pork and chicken lau lau, of course, use taro leaves.

Taro mochi cake
Taro mochi cake

While it’s safe to say that Browning wasn’t thinking of taro when she wrote her sonnet, she’d agree that you might fall in love with its many forms when you visit Kauai.

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