A HEALTHY STOP IN LIHUE

The fairly new Hokulei Shopping Village in Lihue has recently been attracting restaurants to their shiny and new vacant storefronts. A local favorite, Verde, relocated from Kapa`a to Hokulei Shopping Village (much to my chagrin because now I have to drive all the way to Lihue to eat there), and Uncle’s Shave Ice opened a second location there. Aloha Aina Juice Cafe made the move from Puhi in March of 2019 and has become the latest to relocate to Hokulei Shopping Village.

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe
Aloha Aina Juice Café’s new location

The café is small, but every time I have been there or passed by, it is packed with people. And it is easy to see why – whether you are health conscious or just looking for a lighter option on your lunch break, Aloha Aina Juice Cafe has you covered. 

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe
Inside the café

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe offers a selection of acai and pitaya bowls, as well as a variety of smoothies, juices, sweets, and shots. The first time I went I ordered the Killah Koloa smoothie, which had acai, strawberry, banana, blueberry, apple juice, and beet powder. It was tasty and cost me $8.50, which, in my opinion, is kind of pricey for a 12 oz smoothie. 

The second time I went, I opted for a bowl. There are four steps to creating your bowl. First, you pick your size: keiki (12 oz), li’i (16 oz) and nui (24 oz). Then, you pick your blend: pitaya (dragon fruit) acai, or hapa (50/50 blend of both). Next, you can choose either homemade granola or a raw, gluten free option (it doesn’t say what the option is and I didn’t order it, so that remains a mystery). Lastly, you choose your style. You may choose from the following: 

  • Chunky Monkey: base layered with peanut butter and granola, topped with banana, strawberry, chocolate chips, and honey. 
  • Niu (coconut): base layered granola, coconut flakes and haupia, topped with banana, mango, papaya, and honey. 
  • Aina: base layered with poi, coconut flakes and granola, topped with blueberries, mango, banana, honey, and sweet poi drizzle.
  • Tropical Chia: base layered with coconut chia pudding and granola, topped with banana, strawberry, kiwi, pineapple, bee pollen and honey.   
  • Berry: base layered with granola, coconut flakes and blackberry drizzle, topped with banana, blueberries, strawberry and honey.

I opted for the li’i size, acai blend, homemade granola, berry style.

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe
"The Berry" - Acai base with homemade granola

The acai bowl I had was pretty delicious. The acai was really refreshing on such a hot day, and I really enjoyed the homemade granola, especially the whole pieces of macadamia nuts. I only wish that there was more granola in it! My other complaint is that the blueberries were frozen. I would have preferred fresh berries, but I understand that its not the season for it. The bananas, strawberries and coconut, however, were fresh. I am not usually a fan of shredded coconut, but I didn’t mind it in this bowl as it was grated down really finely and didn’t remind me of sawdust as it usually does (I’m a shredded/toasted coconut hater. Don’t @ me). The bowl cost just over $10.00, which honestly isn’t bad for a pretty filling acai bowl, which can often get pretty pricey (especially when you can build your own). 

The space itself is fairly small. There are a few benches you can sit at to eat, but they are mostly occupied by people waiting for their orders. However, there is a very large, long table outside that runs the length of the café equipped with benches. But bring your sunscreen, it’s not covered. I felt like most people knew what they wanted to order, so as a newbie who didn’t quite understand the ordering process, I felt a little bit pressured to order quickly. However, the staff was very helpful in answering questions and didn’t rush me. The menu is quite large and takes up most of the wall, so if you forget your glasses at home you might still be able to read it, depending on your level of blindness (on a scale of Legolas to bat, I’m about a seven).

The café also sells a selection of local products that they use in their offerings, such as the homemade granola, a noni drink, a turmeric tonic, and local honey. On a previous occasion, I even saw local self-care products, such as lip balm.

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe
Local products available to purchase

When they’re busy, which is more often than not, it can take a while to receive your order. I waited about 10 or so minutes when I ordered my smoothie, and this time, when I ordered a bowl, it took about the same amount of time. Nothing too long, but if you’re on your lunch break you might be checking your watch frequently.

Overall, I enjoy this place when I want something refreshing or want a healthier snack option. They have a bit of something for everyone; if you’re not into bowls or smoothies, they also have coffee and teas. I’m unsure about actual food options, though. I have seen some food options, like ready-to-go wraps, and they also had a salad bar for a while, but the last time I went it was completely removed, although the sign for the salad bar is still up. I’m not sure if they got rid of it permanently or are bringing it back. I guess I’ll have to see next time I go back, which will be soon!

Aloha Aina Juice Cafe
510 Nuhou Street
Lihue, HI 96766
Ph: 808-378-4256
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