Kauai Restaurant of the Week with Anne Lee: Hanalei Taro & Juice Co.Inside Feature
April 24, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANNE LEE
Gather Federal Credit Union is supporting its Kauai restaurant community with offering a 3% cash back for Gather FCU SignatureVisa card holders or double points for Platinum Visa cardholders either dining in or ordering takeout throughout April. Gather FCU also supports the local farming community and one of its favorites is Hanalei Taro.
Farming is a tradition learned and passed on from one generation to the next. This is an industry that is slowly becoming a dying profession. Lyndsey M. Alohalani Haraguchi-Nakayama is a fifth-generation farmer at Hanalei Taro, her family’s farm. She is a force to be reckoned with, and with lashes and makeup on point, this wife and mother can drive a tractor like the best of them and has a degree in tropical horticulture, an MBA and a doctorate of education to boot. I met Lyndsey at her Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. food truck, and she shared some of their popular food items and how she gets this job done.
Q. It’s very rare to find farms with rich history and family legacy and female farmers as well. How did you choose this path?
A. I knew from a young age that I eventually wanted to preserve a family tradition for our community and Hawaii’s sustainability. Growing up, my mother Karol, a former teacher, instilled in me the love of learning. She taught us that education is important and can be helpful no matter what we choose to do in the future. My father’s family legacy of farming is also one of perseverance; he instilled in us the value of a strong work ethic. My parents’ marriage of education and farming is how the nonprofit museum was started.
Q. Tell me about the history of the rice mill and taro farm.
A. On our over-100-year-old, sixth-generation family farm, we care for each taro plant from planting, harvesting to cooking, so our local community can enjoy it. As my father Rodney says, “Integrity starts at the root of the crop.” Growing up on the farm, we loved taro in many family dishes and seeing people savor taro is heartwarming, since they enjoy the nutritional benefits as well.
A portion of proceeds goes toward Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill. This nonprofit agrarian museum is the last and only historic rice mill left in the state and is dedicated to preserving agricultural artifacts (some dating back to the 1800s). Hoopulapula means “to plant the seedlings of,” which is the mission of the nonprofit to preserve the artifacts and history of those that have farmed in the community and in Hawaii for generations. Whether it was seedlings of rice or taro, the mission also includes planting seeds of knowledge of agricultural and environmental awareness in children so that the next generation can appreciate all that their kupuna, elders and ancestors have done and how hard farmers work today. Unfortunately, we are still salvaging artifacts from the March 2021 floods, so our ecotours and education programs are temporarily closed for safety. Please follow us (@hanaleitaro) on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for all the latest updates, as well as food truck locations and hours.
Q. Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. is the name of your food truck. What are some of the most popular items?
A. Fresh Kulolo ($10) is a traditional Hawaiian dessert made from taro and coconut. These are sold by the brick, and are vegan, gluten and dairy free.
Da Hanalei Taro Burger Patties ($14 for four patties) can be used in wraps, over salads, or in burgers or a stir-fry. These are vegan, gluten, soy and dairy free. They’re harvested, cooked, cooled down and shipped to your door.
Farm Fresh Poi ($18 for about 1 1/2 pounds) is vegan, gluten and dairy free. It can be eaten fresh or add 1 cup water, slowly heat and stir. More water can be added until your desired consistency is reached.
Taro Mochi Cake ($7.50) is my mother’s recipe. These are gluten free and cooked with farm fresh taro, coconut, rice, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla and baking powder. Fresh is best or freeze and reheat.
Order online in advance as we harvest and cook in small batches. Order by the prior Friday before 7 p.m. to ensure freshness and harvest of each shipment.
Q. What do you love about Hanalei?
A. There’s no place like home and the camaraderie of community. Please respect farmers and wildlife and do not trespass. Head to Hanalei town to support local businesses.
Q. How do people order your products if they can’t get to Kauai?
A. Shop hanaleitaro.com. Sign up for Hanalei Taro Perks for discount codes and awards for your birthday.