We like how you feature local products and tastes. Your poke bars rock, likewise Foodland Farms, and lately we notice you've been rolling out a bunch of new snacks under your own Maikai brand.
So we called some friends and tried as many as we could. You have some real winners, Foodland. Here's our snack-by-snack review.
Hand-cut potato chips, $2.50
Other brands have tried but not quite achieved that real Maui potato chip taste; Foodland does a bang-up job. Reminiscent of Kona Chips and Maui's Kitch'n Cooked chips, the new Maikai chips are crunchy, well seasoned and thick enough to hold up to clam dip and kamaboko dip. They take us back to small-kid time, when we got Maui potato chips from visiting relatives and devoured the whole bag. Maikai's black pepper and sea salt flavor is a real winner. They only come in a small bag at the moment, but perhaps that's better since we could probably smash a larger bag quite easily. Actually we're hoping they come out with bigger bags before the Super Bowl.
Norimaki wasabi kakimochi, $2.75
Nori-wrapped senbei have always been our favorite kind of kakimochi. Now they've grown up: Maikai brand's new wasabi version has a solid shoyu flavor with a little hint of wasabi that kicks in at the end. It's a nice alternative to your typical kakimochi. The resealable bag is a nice touch, assuming you don't finish all your kakimochi in one sitting. Grab a pound of shoyu poke to go with this.
Corn tortilla chips, $4.69 for a large bag
Garlic chipotle salsa, $3.50
Nacho queso dip, $3.50
We've been a fan of Foodland's in-house fried tortilla chips for a long time. Though Maikai's packaged chips are slightly closer in flavor and texture to big brand chips, they're still flavorful and great for scooping. We love the corny taste of the yellow corn chips; next up to try are the sweet potato tortilla chips. The garlic chipotle salsa has a straightforward flavor — herbaceous and smoky with just enough heat, plenty of depth and none of the gross weirdness of most salsa you buy in jars. It's decidedly less chunky, which works great on tacos but not so great for scooping onto a chip. The queso dip has pepper chunks and just enough spice, although it could be a little thicker. If you warm this up before serving, it delivers on the holy trinity of gooey, salty and spicy.
Verdict for all three: 8/10
Freeze-dried strawberries, $4.49
Dried poha berries, $8.99
Coconut chips with wasabi, $2.50
The coconut chips are a real surprise winner. It's an experience that washes over you sequentially: the crispiness first, then the coconut flavor, then "ooh, wasabi!" and finally a return to coconut. These would be easy to snack on all day. The strawberries are good, but not particularly memorable. The poha berries, on the other hand? Excellent. Infused with pineapple, they have a slight zing and more chew than a raisin. The intense poha flavor really comes through in this dried form, nice for when you can't get the fresh stuff. These would be great on a cheese platter with a hearty bleu cheese or some brie.
Strawberries verdict: 6/10
Poha berries verdict: 8/10
Coconut chips verdict: 10/10
Kona coffee butter, $9.99
Maui onion mustard, $5.79
Shout out to our cashier at the Kāneohe Foodland for convincing us to buy the Kona coffee butter — super tasty on our Aunty Michiko's homemade lavosh. Probably also great on french toast or a butter roll. It's got a creamy, buttery texture and a gentle coffee flavor. The Maui onion mustard exceeds our expectations with lots of the beautiful sweetness of Maui onions and just enough zing. Goes beautifully with bratwurst and arabiki sausages. Keep making this, Foodland, it's a real winner.
Butter verdict: 8/10
Mustard verdict: 10/10
In summary, Foodland, you're on a roll with the Maikai snacks and we are loving it. Plenty of local flair, fair prices and even nostalgia, too. We know you have tons more: Maikai matcha coconut bites, banana pancake mix, roasted wasabi peas. What are you coming out with next?