Sharing the aloha ‘spirits’A La Carte
June 4, 2023
Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: Aloha Awamori
In 2011, Randy Kuba visited the villages of Okinawa and brought awamori — a traditional alcoholic beverage — from various distillers to Hawaii. He was able to create a relationship with Taikoku Shuzo Awamori Distillery, and in 2013 Kuba Awamori was born.
Kuba Awamori is the elevated version of traditional awamori, adjusted to international standards. Aloha Awamori, which infuses traditional awamori with the flavors of Hawaii — chili peppers from Hilo, Kona coffee and Meyer lemons from Wahiawa — is the foundation of Kuba Awamori.
Unlike shochu, which uses short-grain Japonica rice, awamori uses Thai-style crushed Indica long-grain rice that is mixed with water and koji-kin, a black fungus indigenous to Okinawa. This mold is resistant to high temperatures and humidity and is said to impart a stronger flavor than the yellow and white molds. The mixture is left to ferment for up to three weeks. Once fermentation is complete, the awamori undergoes the “kame” distilling process, which involves it being left to age in underground clay pots. During this time, it releases some of the acids within, which in turn mellows the flavor.
Aloha Awamori is produced in small batches, has 40% less calories than other alcohol products and is made on-island.
There are many ways to drink Aloha Awamori. It can be consumed straight, on the rocks, topped with hot or cold water or mixed into various cocktails.
Awamori can also be used in cooking, such as to prepare rafute (shoyu pork). Awamori opens up new flavors in a way that is not intrusive and disappears into broths, sauces and meats — but the end result is a dish with unique and fresh flavors. For recipes and more information, visit alohaawamori.com.
Kuba also sells a line of nonalcholic fermented vinegar drinks under the Mana-Su label. The vinegar is a by-product of awamori. There is no waste in the awamori-making process. Fermented drinks also boost gut health by flushing out toxins. For more information, visit healthymanasu. com.
Aloha Awamori offers curbside pickup at the Homer A. Maxey International Trade Resource Center (521 Ala Moana Blvd., M-426) and free shipping on orders over $35.