By Lisa Scontras | Photos by Davin Iyamatsu
Open for Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner 6 to 7:30 p.m.
If living in Waianae is like being in a big extended family then eating at the Kahumana Café is like the old-fashioned family dinners that grandma used to make - the food is brought in from the garden and prepared from scratch, with loving care.
Located about a half-mile off Farrington Highway - take a right on Lualualei Homestead Road just before the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center - on 14 acres of agricultural land in the heart of Waianae is this small, little-known cafe with a big mission: to teach people how to eat healthy.
"My passion is the holistic approach to food preparation," says Robert Zuckerman, director and manager. "Healthy eating is important to our local population and the whole world. Most of the food people eat is so unhealthy. It is so full of additives, chemicals and pesticides that it's really unsafe to eat."
Kahumana Organic Farm and Café is a certified organic farm and Zuckerman is working on becoming certified as a biodynamic farm as well.
The local answer to the national Whole Foods chain, Foodland Farms has full-service seafood, meat, deli, bakery, and floral departments, as well as an R. Field Wine Company. Shopping in the new 25,000-square-foot store is a gourmand's dream. You'll find produce from the Hamakua Coast, North Shore, Big Island and many other local growers as well as more organic produce.
"At Kahumana, we have been practicing organic and biodynamic farming for 30 years," says Zuckerman. "Biodynamic farming is a very comprehensive approach to organic farming. It brings an intentionality to the process, and focuses specifically on producing foods that strengthen the immune system."
"The result is higher quality produce," Zuckerman says.
The menu is all-natural and includes certified organic salads with homemade dressings, sandwich wraps, house entrees and a daily special. Whatever your preference, meals at this eclectic restaurant must be tasted to fully appreciate them.
"The lettuce is so flavorful, it makes me feel healthier just eating it," says one customer who drove from Hawaii Kai on a friend's recommendation.
The Greek salad has all of the classic ingredients - tomatoes, cucumber, onions greens kalamata olives, and feta - and is served with hummus and toasted pita.
"The produce is so tasty and fresh, it beats the ones we've had in Greece," he says.
Trying to choose between the signature Kahumana salads, any of the veggie wraps or the macadamia nut pesto pasta, or the daily specials? Talk your dinner date into sharing two.
From the farm to the table, the whole food and vegetarian meals are served in a casual, rustic ambiance of a small, unpretentious dining room. Not all the meals are vegetarian. Grilled ahi or shrimp is offered with the wraps and quesadillas, and a grilled chicken plate with brown rice or whole wheat noodles with fresh, stir-fried farm greens is on the regular menu. Specials include a wonderful meatloaf made with Maui grown grass-fed beef.
"We don't offer too much red meat but all of our meals are very well balanced," says Zuckerman. "
Even the desserts are made right in Kahumana's kitchen.
Produce from Kahumana's farm includes carrots, beets, eggplant, mango, papaya, banana, oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit and is made available to residents at the Waianae Farmers Market, located at Waianae High School, Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m.
"We also have a Community Supported Agriculture program where we make our produce available to the local community in boxes that they can pick up once a week."
For $20, the box includes a variety of fresh, organic salad greens, root vegetables, seasonal fruits and herbs that you will feel confident serving to your family. Enroll right at the farm.
While there is a real dedication to serving wholesome food and healing people they feed at Kahumana, there is also a vibrant human service component with the non-profit organization, Alternative Structures International. The organization's mission includes providing housing to disenfranchised families, jobs to the unemployed, and by doing so, is a model for sustainability in the community.
Currently, the group provides transitional housing to 127 families helping to address the island's homeless issues, and job training for workers interested in food service to address unemployment.
Kahumana Café opened just 15 months ago as an inventive way to bring healthy foods to local people and to help fund the humanitarian efforts of the non-profit. The steady stream of people, both first timers and loyal customers, keep the restaurant filled.
"Word of mouth is what has really kept our business going," says Zuckerman.
Prices at Kahumana Café are affordable. Lunch entrees run from between $8 and $12. Tours, teaching the Kahumana experience, are available.
Local hot spot
86-032 Farrington Hwy.
Reputed to be the cheapest grocer in Hawaii, fresh veggies, great poke, cold beer
Local hot spot
Cathay Inn Chop Suey
86-088 Farrington Hwy.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.