Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Signature at The KahalaRestaurant Insider
April 23, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE with The Veranda’s director of retail, spa, wellness and merchandising MONJI MOHAMMED
The Kahala Hotel & Resort is known for its award-winning dining culture led by award-winning executive chef Jonathan Mizukami. Signature at The Kahala, meanwhile, is the resort’s retail outlet that offers its popular chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, shortbread cookies, and coffee and teas that are made with the freshest and highest quality ingredients found in Hawaii. Kamaaina and visitors alike have grown to love the resort’s consistent attention to detail, and many want to take The Kahala experience home.
I met with Monji Mohammed, director of retail, spa, wellness and merchandising at The Veranda, to talk about the new Signature by The Kahala retail store that will be opening at Royal Hawaiian Center on April 26. I tried all of the items, including the limited-edition macadamia nuts, that will be unveiled at the grand opening.
AL: Monji, how did this come about?
MM: I realized that there were people coming from all over to purchase our signature macadamia nuts, and they were not even staying with us at the resort. They came from other resorts all over the island. Out of necessity, we wanted to be able to bring our products outside of our four walls.
In April 2019, we had our Signature macadamia line in Bloomingdale’s, and just about a year ago, we launched it at Neiman Marcus.
Based on the response from these partnerships, the idea of opening an additional retail store was born.
AL: What are the food items that will be available for purchase?
MM: We have three signature teas ($35 for 2.5 ounces) that we serve at our restaurants and at our Afternoon Tea. The first is Hukilau. The hotel was known for its hukilau that brought the community together to celebrate the bountiful provision of the ocean. This black tea represents the land and the blue cornflower signifies the ocean. The nine ingredients remind us of the many blessings that the ocean provides.
Next is Lilikoi Cacao. Sustainability is a core value at The Kahala. As the Japanese say, mottainai — don’t waste what is valuable. Cacao shells leftover from the process of making chocolate here in Hawaii are given a new purpose and bring a luxurious chocolate aroma to this black tea, perfectly complemented by tangy, sweet lilikoi.
Lastly, we have Kuuipo. Many come to The Kahala to get married and celebrate an anniversary. Fall in love with this “sweetheart” that marries bergamot, locally grown lavender and roses on a backdrop of black tea.
Meanwhile, the Thin & Delicate Pancake Mix ($18 for 10 ounces) is a favorite among our guests and also was one of the late Danny Kaleikini’s favorites. This makes approximately 16 pancakes per bag.
Our famous Chocolate Macadamia Nuts are made fresh daily. What makes our Hawaiian macadamia nuts so special is the way they are sourced. We go to specific farms on the Big Island, and it’s double roasted and combined with the highest quality tempered chocolate. It’s a unique formula that we follow to the tee. Our signature flavors are dark, milk and white chocolate; blonde; or a selection of all four in the 1-pound box only.
The red ribbon boxes ($32-$75) are limited edition and include seven flavors of mac nuts: lilikoi, matcha coconut, guava strawberry, ube, pineapple, mango, and our first savory line, Hawaiian BBQ.
In 2019, we launched The Kahala Signature Coffee, crafted in partnership with Kona Coffee Purveyors. The all-Hawaiian blend is full-bodied with notes of tropical fruit, kiawe blossom, peanut butter and caramel. They include Signature Blend ($42), Hawaiian Nights ($24), Honolulu Sunrise ($28) and 100% Kona ($55).
New to our Signature line is The Kahala Fruit Jewels ($26 for 12 count), which is like a gummy candy but made with local fruit from Maui.
“Kahala Fruit Cookies” ($58 for 24 count; $65 for 36 count) is infused with our fruit jewels in six flavors.
For the Kahala Signature Coconut Shortbread Cookies, each one is nestled in our specialty chocolate from France — the same chocolate we use to dip our macadamia nuts in. It’s a definite must for the coconut connoisseur, and available in white, milk, dark chocolate, or traditional plain. Flavors include plain coconut shortbread cookies ($42 for 16), chocolate coconut shortbread cookies ($48 for 16) and assorted coconut shortbread cookies ($55 for 20).
AL: Anything else you want to share?
MM: We are a destination within a destination, whether it’s the restaurants, the spa or the exercise/fitness classes. By opening the retail store, we can bring more brand awareness. When you see The Kahala flower, what that exemplifies is luxury from the packaging on the outside and quality and deliciousness on the inside. By offering these types of local food products, we can work with local purveyors and farmers, as sustainability is a key initiative for The Kahala Hotel & Resort.