This is SO Japanese. From the moment I saw the name “Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory,” I knew it had to be. Who else could dream up such a quirky place and plop it right behind Ala Moana Center on Keeaumoku? Think about it.
Violet foods, specifically those made of vibrant purple potatoes known as Okinawan and ube, are gaining popularity across the states. In Hawaii there’s Yogurstory’s Dr. Seussian stack of ube pancakes, drenched in an ocean of sweet purple goo. Also wildly successful is the Uber Tart (both are the brainchildren of the same chef, Andy Dalan).
The Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory is different, in a very omoshiroi (interesting) fashion. Every item on their menu, drinks included, is made from or includes sweet potatoes and or vegetables and fruit grown on their Twin Bridge Farm in Waialua. There are sandwiches stacked with veggies and meat (save for the Spam sandwich) and fries, chips and plenty of desserts both decadent and strange.
Two types of sweet potatoes feature prominently. The purple beni aloha and the golden Haleiwa kintoki are also available baked Japanese-style among hot stones for $1.50 per 100 grams. The back of the cafe has space for aging the sweet potatoes as well as cold cases with farm fresh vegetables and fruit for purchase. I even found what is billed as “the world’s smallest potatoes.”
During my visits, the candied Haleiwa kintoki sweet potato fries became an absolute must-have. Coated generously with a sweet syrup shell, they’re a great midday pick-me-up. They come cold, but I’m guessing they’re even better hot.
The farmers sandwiches, which make up the bulk of their savory options, are loaded with vegetables like okra, sweet potato, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, carrot, asparagus, tomato and red cabbage. Some come with a slice of American cheese and your choice of chicken, Spam, roast beef or kalua pork. They’re all served on the cafe’s sweet potato bread.
The sweet potato haupia, topped with whipped cream and boba balls, is satisfying — it satisfies the sweet tooth but isn’t overpowering.
I give this place credit. I didn’t think sweet potatoes could be pulled and stretched so many ways to fill a varied menu, but at Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory they’ve managed to find a way. A very omoshiroi way.
Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory
1440 Kapiolani Blvd suite 102
Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.