Foodland Ala Moana birthday bash

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The Foodland chefs, from left: Brian Nagai, chef de cuisine; Rick Chang, pastry chef; and Keoni Chang, corporate chef and senior director of culinary.

The Foodland chefs, from left: Brian Nagai, chef de cuisine; Rick Chang, pastry chef; and Keoni Chang, corporate chef and senior director of culinary.

It's already been a year since Foodland Farms opened its flagship store at Ala Moana Center, and they're celebrating big. Starting today through September 4, they're throwing themselves a "first birthday luau" and customers can buy Hawaiian-inspired food at the self-serve hot and cold bars.

But wait, there's more! They created a new canvas tote that says "Eat Your Heart Out at Foodland Farms Ala Moana," and you can get it free with any purchase of $100 or more (while supplies last). I got one for myself, and it's pretty handy with long handles for slinging as a shoulder bag, as well as outside pockets.

One of the biggest things is their launch of about three dozen new food offerings, which you can grab to go or eat at The Bar. The store is known for its wide selection of takeout items, but through observing customer habits and requests, the chefs came up with new dishes that they know will be a hit. I'm not going to type them all out here; there are too many items and you're not going to read the whole list. (And yes, also because I'm lazy.)

Instead, here's a look at some of the things I sampled at the store, all solid. I will probably be making these things my dinner on those many nights I'm too lazy to cook.

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They're rolling out three new poke varieties: kochujang masago ahi poke; garlic ahi poke; and rainbow roll poke (pictured) with ahi, salmon, shrimp, imitation crab, masago, wasabi mayo and sweet kabayaki sauce.
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One of the many new items rolling out at The Bar: charred tomato caprese salad with Ho Farms tomatoes, smoked fresh mozzarella, basil, and Nalo Farms micro shiso.
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You don't have to be a vegetarian to love this sandwich of beet hummus with grilled veggies and goat cheese on home made focaccia. Chef Brian Nagai is quite the meatatarian, and even he is inclined to eat this often.
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The grill station next to the fried chicken has steamed-to-order bao buns filled with pork, chicken or shrimp. We got to try the soy-braised pork belly with "awe-ssam" sauce and housemade pickled veggies. I like having different kinds of fillings for my bao buns, so this is perfect.
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The HI Steaks station is now offering a hearty steak simian with grilled top sirloin, house-smoked tonkotsu-style broth, kim chee slaw and a soft-boiled egg. Big eaters will love this — it's really filling!
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The Bar is also rolling out a new bacon cheeseburger, and it's legit. It's got bacon and cheddar mixed into the beef patty, then topped with cheddar and more bacon, with shredded lettuce and a cajun style remoulade on a brioche bun. It's served with buttermilk-battered fried onions. If I weren't so full, I would have eaten more of this.
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Pastry chef Rick Chang (unfortunately, no relation) came up with six large ice cream sandwiches including Kona coffee, green tea, coconut pineapple, chocolate mint, mac nut and birthday cake. I could have eaten a whole birthday cake sandwich, it was just that good. I also appreciate that the cookies aren't hard, so the ice cream doesn't smoosh out of the sides.

You can check out FoodlandAlaMoana.com to see the various birthday promos, new menu items, and enter to win a pair of tickets to their upcoming "Sip & Savor" wine pairing event at The Bar.

Foodland Farms Ala Moana
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., ocean level
808-949-5044