Friday, March 2, 2018

Costco in Hawaii: Oahu part 1

Aloha! I am in Hawaii for the next few weeks and I will be island hopping to visit all seven of the Costcos in the state. My first stop was on Oahu where there are four Costco warehouses: Iwilei, Hawaii Kia, Kapolei, and Waipio. According to Wikipedia, Oahu is the 3rd largest of the Hawaiian islands, home to the state capital of Honolulu and more than half of the states entire population, which explains why Oahu has four warehouses. The other three Hawaii Costcos are spread out on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.

I've been to a few Oahu Costcos before, but not since I started blogging. Last Friday I went around to all four Oahu Costcos as if it was my first time.

The Iwilei warehouse, the closest Costco to Waikiki, is similar to your average warehouse. It has a foodcourt, a gas station (across the street), a pharmacy, optical department, tire center, photo center and hearing aids. However, their hours are slightly different, opening at 0900 everyday so you get a bit more time to shop each day.

The Iwilei gas station has extended hours too, opening at 0430 daily and closing at 1030pm M-F and 830pm Sat & Sun. Costco is hands down the cheapest gas available on the island, so remember to top off your rental car at Costco before returning it.

Like many warehouses in warm climates, Iwilei’s food court is outside, letting you enjoy the island breeze or watch the rain pass by as you eat. In addition to staples like the $1.50 hotdog & soda combo, the Iwilei food court offers a few unique items: beef chili with beans, BBQ beef brisket sandwich, turkey wraps, and my new favorite, the açaí bowl! Topped with fresh blueberries, diced strawberries, Kirkland signature granola and banana chips, the tart açaí frozen yogurt bowl is a delicious and refreshing treat.

Inside, the warehouse layout is familiar, but I kept my eyes peeled for items you probably won't find on the mainland -- like ukuleles! (Pronounced OO-KOO-LEH-LEH, not yoo-ka-lay-lee.) This Ashley Entertainment 24” Concert Ukulele, made of Koa wood, comes with a padded carrying case, an LED tuner and extra strings.

Protect your car seats from sun, sand and salt water with Hawaiian Style Quilted Seat Covers by Winnie Fashion. Made in Honolulu, this two-pack of washable seat covers will fit most bucket seats and come in dozens of different colorful patterns.

Need a surfboard? You’ll find surfboards for sale year round at all Hawaii Costcos!

You’ll also save big bucks on beautiful floral lei at Costco. Located next to the floral display, you'll find a refrigerator full of different lei at unbeatable prices. A two-pack of ‘simple’ Plumeria Lei is just $9.99, a single ‘simple’ lei made with multiple kinds of flowers is $9.29 and ‘fancy’ lei, including kukui nut lei, are just $14.99 each.

One of the fastest ways to acclimate to island life is to dress for the part. All Costcos in Hawaii sell fashionable yet affordable men’s Hawaiian shirts and woman’s sarongs. Cooke Street Men’s Short Sleeve Aloha Shirts are available in sizes M-XXL. One-size Casual Movements Sarongs come in dozens of bright colors and patterns.

Ladies, enjoy the laidback island life in casual and super comfy 32 Degrees Ladies Rompers and Ladies Jumpsuits. The Rompers are marked down to $9.97, and the Jumpsuits are $16.99 each.

I spotted an assortment of flip flops (or slippers as the locals call them), like Sanuk Ladies Yoga Mat Flip Flops, marked down to $14.97 a pair, and Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip Flop, $14.99 a pair.

Reef Ladies Stargazer Flip Flops, $19.99 a pair, and Reef Men’s Phantom Flip Flop, $19.99 a pair.

ADIDAS Men’s or Women’s Cloud Foam Adilette Flip Flops, $18.99 a pair.

Keep Cool Insulated Soft Picnic Cooler Bags may be something you find at Costcos on the mainland, but I bet you don’t have ones with beautiful red hibiscus flowers and hula dancers! (For the record, I am still miffed Costco stopped printing their name on the reusable tote bags. Half the reason I collect them is because they scream Costco!) In addition to keeping your groceries cool on the way home, these insulated totes make great beach bags too!

At every Costco warehouse, you'll find a handful of books and magazines specific to that geographic location -- and Hawaii is no exception. Read about the life of Hawaii’s last queen in the photograph filled Lili’uokalani: A Royal Album by Allan Seidel, only $9.99, a 37% savings off the cover price. For more on the last Hawaiian queen, her family and their beloved home, check out Queen Lili’uokalani, the Dominis family, and Washington Place, Their Home by Rianna M. Williams, only $17.99, a 40% savings off the cover price.

Learn how to talk like a native with the Hawaiian Dictionary, revised and enlarged by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, at just $12.99 -- 65% off the cover price!

Malama Honua: Hokule’a - A Voyage of Hope by Jennifer Allen $36.99, a 38% savings off the cover price, is filled with photographs chronicling the voyage of the Hokulea, a ship that traveled around the world raising awareness of sustainability without the use of modern technology and using only the stars, seas, birds and wind to navigate.

Try your hand at Hawaiian cooking and bring the taste of the islands home with one of these best-selling Hawaiian cookbooks by Jean Watanabe Hee. Each book is $10.99 at Costco -- 31% off cover.
Jean Hee’s Best of the Best Hawai’i Recipes and Hawai’i’s Best Local Dishes.

The Best of the Best Hawai’i Local Desserts and Hawai’i’s Best Mochi Recipes.

You’ll save on carryout/takeaway when you learn to cook Vietnamese food, Asian dumplings and other Asian cuisine with the likes of these next three books. Eat Real Vietnamese Food: A Step by Step Guide to the Classic Cuisine of Vietnam by Lien Nguyen, $20.99, a 36% savings off the cover price. Dumplings All Day Wong by celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong, $13.99, a 39% savings off the cover price. The Asian Slow Cooker: Exotic Favorites for Your Crockpot by Kelly Kwok, $13.99, a 36% savings off the cover price.

Don’t forget you can save at LEAST 30% off the cover price of your favorite national publications at Costco magazine stands, so skip the airport for your beach-reading and head to Costco instead.
Try one of these local publications: Honolulu Waikiki Now, Hawai’i Magazine, and Hawaii Business.

Unwind with some relaxing coloring in one of Kelly Monis’s adult coloring books: Coloring Nature in Hawaii or Coloring Hawaiian. Each are $9.99 -- 33% savings off cover.

Don’t forget about the keiki! (Keiki is the Hawaiian word for children.) The Costco prices for all books listed below are 38% - 40% off the cover price unless otherwise specified.
Ordinary ‘Ohana by Lee Cataluna and Cheyne Gallarde, and Hush Little Keiki by Kim Vukovich & Marioko Merritt, each just $8.99.

Ocean Friends 1-2-3 by Kevin Teruya & illustrated by Yukon Green will have you and your little one counting to 10 in English, Hawaiian and Japanese, $8.49

Peekaboo the Poi Dog by Wendy Kunimitsu Haraguchi & illustrated by Kat Uno, $8.49

How about a Pineapple? by  Jenna & Dani Hickman and illustrated by Antonio Verceluz, $7.99.

Limu The Blue Turtle and His Hawaiian Garden by Kimo Armitage & illustrated by Scott Kaneshiro, $7.99

Two of my favorites are The Kukui Tree by Jarrod Gatlin, and A Coconut Named Bob by Austin Weaver, both beautifully illustrated by Don Robinson and each just $8.49.

Save 20% or more on dining and excursions when you purchase gift cards at Costco.
Two $50 gift cards to The Willows and Karai Crab Restaurant, for only $79.99.

Two $50 gift cards to Kobe Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar, only $74.99.

Four $25 gift cards to Tokoname Sushi Bar & Restaurant, only $79.99.

Two $50 gift cards to Umamiya Shabu Shabu Restaurant, only $79.99.

Two $25 gift cards to La Tour Cafe, only $39.99.

Save on Polynesian Cultural Center Deluxe Ali’i Luau Package, just $99.99 for one adult general admissions, including ali’i luau dinner & buffet, and Ha: Breath of Life evening show.

Get two general admissions tickets + mini-golf to Wet’n’Wild Hawaii, for $59.99.

Four admission tickets to Sea Life Park Hawaii, is $59.99 when purchased at Costco.

Get a $100 gift card to Atlantis Adventures Cruises and Submarines for only $79.99.

Hawaii is barely 1,500 miles from the equator, so you'll need some sunscreen. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, biodegradable and because it is oxybenzone free, it’s reef safe.

Now for my favorite part about visiting different warehouses: the FOOD!
The Iwilei warehouse had a seafood event going on where you could get FRESH Kauai shrimp for just $9.99 a pound.

Poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad (similar to the Peruvian ceviche), is made fresh daily at all Costcos throughout Hawaii. There are several different varieties to choose from: Spicy Ahi Poke, Ahi Shoyu Poke, Wasabi Poke, and Nori Poke. Traditionally served as an appetizer, it can also be enjoyed as a main course. The spicy ahi and wasabi ahi are my favorites and I love enjoying poke for breakfast lol.

And the ahi doesn’t stop there. You can also get ahi and ahi & a’u sashimi trays at Costco. (Ahi is yellowfin tuna, A’u is Marlin.) Each tray comes complete with soy sauce, wasabi and a few sets of chopsticks for sharing. Ahi is $14.99 per lb. and ahi/a’u combo tray is $11.99 per lb.

According to the 2010 US Census, people of Asian descent make up 38% of Hawaii's population -- the highest of any state. The Asian population on Hawaii is mainly made up of Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and their cultural influences have greatly impacted the variety of Asian foods Costco carries. In addition to staples like the $4.99 rotisserie chicken, the delis also have Bulgogi, a Korean dish made of marinated slices of meat. Costco’s Beef Bulgogi comes in its own marinade with sesame seed and onions, ready to be stir fried for a quick and delicious meal. While this item is not exclusive to the islands (Bulgogi can be found at some SoCal warehouses), it’s not available at home, so I enjoy it while on travel. I Hawaiianed up our Bulgogiu the other night with diced fresh pineapple chunks and green bell peppers.

Speaking of veggies, I am happy to report the Hawaiian Costcos carry GREEN bell peppers -- not just red or variety like at home in D.C. They also carry Baby Bok Choy!

Kabocha, a variety of Japanese winter squash similar to butternut squash but sweeter, is sold in precut chunks in Hawaii warehouses.

The Iwilei Costco even has fresh Sugar Snap Peas and local mushrooms ready for a good stir fry!

Dole Royal Hawaiian Pineapples are $2.99 each. I'm told that's the cheapest anywhere on the island!

My all time favorite fruit is probably the apple banana. Smaller than the conventional bananas back home, apple bananas are not to be confused with the small lady finger bananas. Apple bananas are firmer, and have a slightly tart, or apple-ish flavor. They're most common in southeastern parts of Asia and the Philippines, but are also plentiful in Hawaii. (Don’t get me wrong, I love pineapples, but pineapples are much easier to get on the mainland compared to apple bananas.)

Pineapple infused foods are quite popular in Hawaii for obvious reasons, like these Evergood Pineapple Sausages and this Naples Hawaiian Style Chicken.  While charbroiled chicken thighs in a teriyaki sauce with pineapple is not an item specific to Hawaii (I've had it before in SoCal), its still rather tasty!

Louis Kemp brand Ultimate Crab Delights, authentic Japanese sushi style surimi (aka imitation crab meat).

Okami Chinese Style Chicken Salad Kits come with almost everything you need to make two family style salads: antibiotic free grilled chicken, crispy noodles, wonton strips, cashews & almonds and a sesame dressing. Just add your favorite lettuce.

Tokyo Bento 2-packs, choose from: California Roll, Futomaki Roll, Shoyu Tuna Roll, and Cone Sushi.

Dried Kuttlefish (aka dried & seasoned shredded squid).

You will find Kimchi, a Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables & seasonings at Hawaiian Costcos. Chongga Mat Kimchi is imported from Korea, while Halm’s Korean Won bok Kim-Chee, is made in Honolulu.

Yakisoba noodles, (a Japanese noodle that is stir fried) can be found at Hawaii Costcos, as well as Ramen, another Japanese noodle dish.

I love the pre-cooked brown rice bowls Costco carries, but this is the first time I have seen pre-cooked STICKY rice bowls. Since I didn’t pack a rice maker with me, I cant wait to give these a try!

Portuguese sausage must be quite popular in Hawaii because Costco carries several varieties.
Redondo’s Sliced Portuguese Brand Sausage, Redondo’s Mild Portuguese Sausage, Rego’s Purity, Brand Mild Portuguese Sausage and Gouvea’s, The Original Hawaiian Brand Portuguese Sausage, made in Honolulu are just a few examples.

Rumors have it that Costco buys nearly 50% of its food items from local sources right here in Hawaii, making Costco a great place to stock up on affordable Island Cuisine. For instance, Hilo’s Amano Finest brand Gobo Tenpura deep fried fish cakes are made fresh in Hilo on the Big Island.

Saimin, similar to ramen, is a Hawaiian noodle dish developed by varying Asian influences. Costcos in Hawaii sell saimin noodles and fried saimin. (I’ve also heard that McDonald’s in Hawaii serve Saimin, along with Spam Musubi -- but yet to verify.)

Sweet Potato & Taro Chips from the Hawaiian Chip Co. are made right in Honolulu.

La Tour Bakehouse Hawaiian Honey Furikake Puffs and Cookies in Paradise Furikake Party Mix are two savory, locally-made snacks. If popcorn's your thing, try Hawaiian Hurricane Popcorn and Island Princess's macadamia popcorn crunch.

Maebo’s One-Ton Chips and Ono Giant Shrimp Chips, Furikake flavor -- both made in Hawaii.

You may think that these Maui Style Chips and Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips are local to the islands but the former is made by Frito Lays and the latter by Tim's Cascade, based out of Washington. Both brands are delicious nonetheless. I prefer the Maui Style brand, but I do like the additional flavors found in the Tims's Cascade Island Variety Pack, which includes Original, Sweet Maui Onion, Luau BBQ, and Hulapeño flavors.

Wild caught and dried Aku by Hilo fish company on the Big Island, and Char Siu Pork, seasoned roasted pork, are both Hawaiian made, as is the Redondo’s Pipi Kalua Hawaiian style fully cooked cured beef, which is made in Waipahu, Hawaii.

There is even locally made jerky! Wild caught, all natural Kaimana Ahi Tuna Jerky, Teriyaki flavor, and Teriyaki flavored Marlin Fish Jerky -- both made in Hawaii.

Parks Brand Shredded Pollock (Taegu), and this Sesame Seaweed Salad (goma wakame), are both made fresh in Honolulu.

Lomi salmon (or lomi-lomi salmon as I’ve heard locals call it) is a fresh salad made of diced tomatoes and diced raw salmon, seasoned with salt and onions and served cold. It can look a bit like pico de gallo.  It’s delicious! Costco carries pre-made lomi salmon by Taro Brand.

Lau Lau, another native Hawaiian dish is basically seasoned meat or poultry wrapped in taro leaf, steamed and served as part of a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch with a side of rice and macaroni salad. I spotted Keoki’s Pork Lau Lau at Costco.

Viva La Familia Mild Maui Salsa made fresh on Maui.

Wikipedia tells me kalua is a traditional method of Hawaiian cooking that involves using an imu, a hand-dug, underground oven. Kalua Pork, a traditional Hawaiian dish served at luaus, gets its characteristically smokey flavor from the smoldering ti leaves that its baked in, coupled with the wood that heats it. Once fully cooked the pig is removed from the imu, the meat is shredded and served. Modern technology allows us to make kalua pork in our own homes with pressure cookers instead of imus, like in Nom Nom Paleo’s recipe for Kalu Pork. But you can skip the cooking process all together and head to any Costco in Hawaii for pre-made kalua pork -- fully cooked and ready to heat-n-eat! Like May’s Hawaii brand Kalua shredded pork, 3 lb. pack or Keoki’s Kalua Pork, made in Honolulu.

There are even Hawaiian made dog treats! Hau-oli Chick Sticks made with natural chicken, coconut, rice and poi.

Not to be out done by the deli, the Costco bakeries in Hawaii have unique eats too, like this Pineapple Coconut Loaf with Macadamia Nuts. Its a butter pound cake with dry roasted macadamia nuts, sweetened flaked coconut and a pineapple glacé. I wish I had picked this up when I had the chance!

If you like pound cake, you'll probably love these Mantecada Muffins! Mantecada is a Spanish sweetbread similar to pound cake.

In addition to the Kings Hawaiian sweet bread that you will find at nearly every Costco on the mainland, Costco Bakeries in Hawaii make their own sweet bread rolls and stock a variety of locally made sweet breads, including Ani’s Bake Shop Pan Sweet Bread, made on Oahu. Buy Punalu’u Bake Shop Traditional Sweetbread unsliced loaves, made on The Big Island are my favorite!

In keeping with the sweet bread theme, you'll also find La Boulangere hand braided French Brioche from France.

Other breads you probably wont find on the mainland are a few varieties of Japanese Bread. Watanabe Bakery Japanese Style White Bread and Wheat Bread.

According to in Hawaii, beer, wine and liquor are all sold at grocery stores, including Costco, and there are no restrictions for sales on Sundays. (Woohoo!) At Costcos in Hawaii, you will find a variety of beer, wine & spirits, from your favorite domestic & import brands, to local Hawaiian brands and even some unique imports you might not see at Costcos on the mainland.

Imports like Kirin Ichiban 100% Malt Japanese Beer 24-pack,

Suntory Whisky from Japan, 750ML,

Gekkeikan Horin Sake from Japan, 720ML, and Murai Daiginjo Sake from Japan, 720ML.

More familiar imports include Malibu Caribbean Rum with Coconut Liqueur, 1.75L and Jose Cuervo Coconut-Pineapple Margarita Mix, 1.75L.

Costcos in Hawaii are also full of local Hawaiian Made Beers & Spirits.
Kona Brewing Co. Longboard Island Lager, 24-pack., and Kona Brewing Co. Big Kahuna Variety 24-pack featuring Pineapple IPA, Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Castaway IPA India Pale Ale.

Maui Brewing Co. Limited Release Makawao Wheat 6-pack

Koloa Rum Co. Kaua’i Dark Hawaiian Run, 750ML and Koloa Rum Co. Pineapple Passion Rum Cocktail, 750ML are both made on Kauai.

Trader Vic’s Ready-to-Drink Mai Tai Mix, 1.75L

And last but not least, the macadamia nuts. Native to Australia, macadamias were brought to Hawaii in the early 1900s. Mauna Loa and Hawaiian Host are two of the most recognizable brands, and you’ll save a bunch by stocking up on mac nut souvenirs for friends and family back home when you purchase macadamias at Costco instead of at the airport.

6-packs of Mauna Loa Honey Roasted Macadamias or Maui Onion & Garlic are each just $20.99.
6-packs of Mauna Loa Island Classics Assortment, two of each flavor: dry roasted, Honey Roasted, Maui Onion & Garlic, Milk Chocolate and Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamias, are also just $20.99.

Hawaiian Host Island Macs, the chocolate lovers chocolate covered macadamias 12-pack is $29.99. Hawaiian Host AlohaMacs, dark chocolate or milk chocolate covered macadamias 6-pack is $19.99
Hawaiian Host Maui Caramacs, creamy caramel and macadamias covered in milk chocolate 6-pack is $15.99. And for the ultimate assortment, the Hawaiian Host 12-pack assortment tote: three AlohaMacs milk chocolate, three Kona Caramels, three Maui Caramacs and three Island Macs is $34.99.

For individually packaged macadamias: the Hawaiian Hosts Island Trio 36-count is an assortment of Maui Caramacs, Aloha Macs, and Mac Nut Crunch, for $19.49, and the Hawaiian Host Paradise Delights Trio 90-count is an assortment of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and Maui Caramacs for $22.99. There is also a Mauna Loa Macadamia 36-count Trio, featuring Maui Onion & Garlic, Milk Chocolate, and plain dry roasted Macadamias for $18.99.

Island Princess is another delicious brand of macadamia nuts, and Costco sells several varieties in 20 oz. bags for just $15.99. Choose from Lightly Salted, Maui Onion or Honey Roasted.

Oh, and on your way out of Costco, if you need ice don’t forget to grab a 20 lb. bag for just $3.79!

There are so many more Hawaii specific item -- too many for this one blog post! But don’t worry, I'll do the other Hawaii Costcos next!

Mahalo, (thank you) for reading my blog! 😎

Until next time,
the Costco Connoisseur

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, did you get a chance to see how much more regular Costco items cost?? Assuming they have them. For ex rotisserie chicken? Tyson bags of panko breaded chicken? Pretty much any regular food/eggs/dairy. I've long heard of the insane food prices in HI, and would love to know if Costco might make it semi-sane. Would appreciate any feedback!