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Inside Feature

Awesome Acai “Bowls” Over Customers

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Leah Friel
January 6, 2013

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After spending 2012 growing its loyal customer base, Tropical Tribe will transition to a new location from which it will continue serving a host of quality acai in 2013.

“Jan. 31 will be the last day in this parking lot location,” says Andre Alves de Moraes of the Tropical Tribe food truck’s current locale in a lot at 1637 Kapiolani Blvd. across from Papa Johns and 24 Hour Fitness. “I’ll be moving the truck soon to a better location. I’m also planning on opening a storefront location in the future.”

Alves de Moraes came to Hawaii from Brazil with the goal of studying English before eventually moving to England to earn a master’s degree in economics.

But, after enjoying Hawaii and “falling in love” with the weather, ocean and surroundings, the budding entrepreneur decided to apply his business acumen and opened Tropical Tribe — a brightly colored food truck serving high quality acai bowls, shakes and teas.

“I’ve been everywhere and have eaten acai bowls; in Brazil they are extremely popular,” Alves de Moraes says. “Most people in Hawaii really don’t know what the acai berry tastes like, so I didn’t know if they’d like it — but our customers are loving it. This berry is so popular in terms of protein and vitamins, it can’t be beat. There is more protein in the acai berries than in tuna fish.”

After coming to Oahu, the owner of Tropical Tribe scoured the island looking for a quality acai bowl and realized that recipes he was finding used a low grade acai, far inferior to what he was used to enjoying in Brazil. Alves de Moraes explains that ancient tribes in the Amazon discovered the acai and guarana berries and relied on their potent properties for energy and strength throughout everyday life. The acai berry also was credited with keeping the tribes alive during periods of food scarcity as the fruit’s amino acids, proteins and antioxidants essentially became a meal in itself.

“The competitors use a different brand of acai in their recipes, and it is actually one of the worst qualities of acai out there,” Alves de Moraes says. “What I decided to do was import high quality acai directly from Brazil because I wanted people to enjoy the same tastes that we have there.”

In addition to acai, Alves de Moraes also imports guarana, a natural energy and focus enhancer, and yerba mate tea, a powerful herbal tea that is consumed daily in South America because of its stellar health properties.

Customers have been clamoring for Tropical Tribe’s Tropical Tribe Bowl ($8 regular, $9.50 large), which serves up the acai, guarana, granola, bananas and honey along with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

The Classic Tribe Bowl ($7 regular, $8.50 large) features a mixture of high quality acai and guarana that is topped with granola, bananas and honey. Similarly, the Workout Bowl ($7.50 regular, $9 large) features the same combination while also including whey protein — a favorite choice of those heading to or recovering from a tough cardio session.

While the bowls are served in 16 ounce portions, Alves de Moraes plans on offering eight ounce servings soon “for those customers looking for something smaller, whether they don’t eat as much, or have already eaten and are looking to enjoy a snack or dessert.”

For those looking to shake it up, Tropical Tribe’s shake options provide energy and nutrition on the go. One may reach for Tupi Tribe ($6), which includes yerba mate tea, guarana and acai, or Strawberry Tribe ($6) with the same ingredients in addition to strawberry ice cream. Tropical Tribe also serves cold yerba mate tea in its Guayaki Tribe ($2), which brings the nutrients from the herbal tea’s “leaves of the god’s nectar” to local consumers.

Customers also may find Tropical Tribe at the Farmer’s Market at Ala Moana Center every Saturday morning, as well as at various “Eat the Street” food truck events.

Tropical Tribe

1637 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
366.8226
Open Daily 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Tropical-Tribe.com