Monday, April 15, 2024
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Coco Bloom is full of healthy treats in Kaimuki

I was interested in checking out the new Coco Bloom Kitchen — which opened just shy of a month ago — since I heard they were using ingredients from local Ma Farms and Kahumana Organic Farms, both of whom have booths at the weekly Farm Lovers Markets. What a delightful surprise!

Everything is made to order using fresh ingredients, so be prepared to wait a little bit, but that adds to the charm. While I was waiting, I talked story with the couple who own it. They used to own the crepe spot in Shirokiya, back when it was across Macy’s at Ala Moana Center. A few years ago, the wife got sick, and in her journey back to health, she found that good, local (and preferably organic) food was a big part of healing. She wanted to be able to share this healing through food, but show that you could enjoy it in beautiful creations, and not just salad — they offer sandwiches, smoothies, and dessert-y toasts, as well.

Here are some of the items I tried with friends on our visits there.

Menchi katsu burger, $12.

One of my favorite items was the menchi katsu burger, using ground pork, topped with garlic aioli and Japanese vegetable sauce on a bed of shredded cabbage, served on a fluffy brioche bun. I loved the light crunch at first bite, followed by the moist pork inside. It was so good, I was making noises while eating it!

Egg sando, $7.

I’m a sucker for Japanese-style egg salad sandwiches like these. It’s not too heavy, not too rich, but brings enough flavor to satisfy you. And it’s crustless! This kind of sandwich always makes me feel like I’m back in Japan. Sigh.

They also offer a hot egg sandwich, which is actually the same thing, but pressed panini style. I’m not sure why they have that option, but they recommended the traditional egg sando anyway!

You might want to balance it out with a salad. Here are the three salads that we tried, with my comments below:

Bloom chopped salad, $13, with grilled shrimp (additional $3) and avocado (additional $3). The menu says, “Woo, 13 kinds of vegetables!”
Rainbow salad, $11.
Zen salad, $11.

Our favorite was the Bloom Chopped Salad, as it had all the flavors and textures of 13 different ingredients: romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, kale, tomato, red onion, beet, grilled kabocha, mushrooms, quinoa, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, purple radish, and an edible flower. Okay, adding grilled shrimp to it certainly did make it even better. The Rainbow Salad was basic, but good; next time, I’ll add chicken or shrimp to it for an additional $3. If you like more variety in textures, the Zen Salad is a good choice. I’m not sure that I would get the miso ginger dressing again (although that’s the recommended match), as I liked the richer dressings better.

Just a little news scoop for you: these salads have inspired Ma Farms to sell salads along with their produce at the Saturday Kakaako (and maybe the Sunday Kailua) Farm Lovers Markets as an option for people who simply want to grab and go.

Pork katsu burger, $13.

There are two different tonkatsu sandwiches: the pork katsu burger (shown) and the regular pork loin sandwich ($10.50), which is served on Japanese white bread or gluten-free bread. This burger is much like the menchi katsu burger with the toppings and the brioche bun, just more solid and hefty. Whichever pork katsu sandwich you choose, know that it’s marinated in fermented koji overnight to give it a distinctive umami essence.

Avocado toast, $9.50.

Avocado toast is avocado toast, but one of the things I liked about Coco Bloom’s was the sprinkle of nuts over it to give it a nice crunch. I was a little bummed that the bread wasn’t more toasted (maybe it got soggy because it was takeout), as that’s what gives avocado toast its extra flavor. But it was still good.

I didn’t get to try the toasts with the organic fruit jellies yet, but that’s next on my list to try. Those use organic Hawaiian sweet bread, which sounds yummy!

Strawberry sando, $8, and ichigo milk, $7.50.

One of the items that’s probably the top seller at Coco Bloom is their organic strawberry sando, which is filled with cut berries and organic whipped cream. It’s super instagrammable, but if you have a more American palate, you should know that it’s not very sweet at all. I wonder if they might sell this with a Hawaiian sweet bread option? In any case, it’s fun and cute, but something you may want to buy for the kids to enjoy. Order this early, as they sell out.

The ichigo (strawberry) milk is also probably a top seller. Who doesn’t love a pretty strawberry milkshake, right? When ordering, you first get a choice of condensed milk, honey, or agave. I was inclined to be very healthy and get agave, but they said that condensed milk would provide the most Japanese flavor experience. Then they gave me a choice of whole milk or oat milk, so I went with the healthier oat milk. I also ordered organic whipped cream on top for an extra 50 cents, to be a little naughty. Again, this isn’t as sweet as American shakes, but this was still good. And super cold!

From left: Ichigo milk, homemade lemonade, and “But First, Green” smoothie.

Other drinks include coffees, lattes, lemonades, and other smoothies. We tried the homemade lemonade ($5), which was nicely balanced with sweet and tart; and the “But First, Green” smoothie ($8), made of pineapple, kale, apple, celery and agave. This was easy to drink, thanks to the fruits, but still made us feel like we did our bodies some good.

Coco Bloom Kitchen is located downstairs from Longs Drugs in Kaimuki, next to Times Supermarket. There’s lots of free parking, of course. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. but are busiest from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., so plan accordingly since everything is made to order. You can also order online.

Coco Bloom Kitchen
3221 Waialae Ave.
Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday

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