My first taste of kulolo was in the Sweet Lady of Waiahole dessert from Waiahole Poi Factory last year. The warm kulolo, the creamy haupia ice cream: Even though I grew up in Hawaii, I never knew the realm of possibilities of kalo, especially when paired with ice cream. I was instantly hooked. So when I saw that Kalo Bombs was selling scoops of paiai on top of ice cream, I had to investigate.
Kalo Bombs is a hole-in-the-wall shop in Waianae, in the same building as Sugar Hut. The signature item is the Paiai Bomb, highlighting the hand-pounded kalo with just a little water. It’s a cup of ice cream topped with paiai made fresh daily, drizzled with coconut cream and sprinkled with coconut flakes (regular cup $10, keiki $7). There’s also a Kalo Bomb, the dessert without ice cream, and an Açaí Bomb which replaces the ice cream with açaí.
I’m here for the Paiai Bomb. My sister and I choose different flavors of Dave’s Ice Cream for our keiki-size cups. My sister’s choice is haupia; mine is kulolo, of course. We go outside to wait and admire the variety of kalo planted around the shop.
Kalo Bombs makes paiai fresh every day using kalo from different farms across Hawaii. You can buy it by the pound at the shop; they’re even looking to start a monthly subscription service. On hot days like today, it’s the Paiai Bombs that frequently sell out.
Before long a worker comes out with our treats. I dig in, careful to get a bit of every layer on my spoon, and my first taste of paiai is even better than I expect: The smooth, sweet ice cream paired with the thicker, not-so-sweet paiai and coconut flakes create a harmony of flavors and textures. I don’t even care that I can’t really taste the coconut cream. Both ice cream flavors are really good paired with paiai, but the kulolo has little chunks of kulolo mixed in, which just elevates the dessert to the next level. I struggle to eat this all before it completely melts. Before I know it, my cup is empty and I’m a little sad, but very satisfied.
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I’ve just discovered probably one of my new favorite ice cream toppings. It’s such a simple concept, but a scoop of paiai really adds so much to ice cream. And now there’s a place that specializes in it. If you’re headed to Yoks or Makaha and want a sweet treat along the way, Kalo Bombs is where to go.