Living in Hawaii all my life and being part Japanese, TOFU was a part of my life like shampoo is a part of taking a shower. Each week, we would have a tofu dish out to grab a few pieces to go with dinner, along with a small side dish for shoyu (soy sauce) to dip.
If you would've told me back then that I'd be meeting with a family owned business that had been in operation for over 65 years in Hawaii making this creation that's SOY good (LOL, I joke), I would've never believed you. But then again, here I am meeting with the incredible business owner, Paul Uyahara and his dedicated team who make up the notorious "ALOHA TOFU FACTORY, INC."
(Paul Uyehara (Owner/President of Aloha Tofu Factory, Inc.) + ME!
Since 1950, the ALOHA TOFU FACTORY has been pumping out tofu for the residents and tourists of Hawaii. The factory makes everything from scratch and even creates their own soy milk to which starts the process of making tofu.
Some people may wonder, where did tofu come from? According to Aloha Tofu Factory, "history says tofu was created by accident in China by a cook who added some sea salt to mashed soybeans. The curled substance solidified and became the first tofu."
Now, as a small business making tofu, there's a lot of work that needs to be completed daily to ensure good quality and packaging. Paul is active and involved in the whole process and his team works very hard to ensure the best product is delivered to your nearest supermarket.
(Everyone works hard to give you great quality tofu)
(Take a journey with the tofu)
Tofu itself is an incredible product, you can cook with it in so many different ways and it offers many health benefits. When I asked Mr. Uyehara what he wanted people to know most about the tofu they created, he said, "I want people to know how versatile TOFU is. You don't have to eat it only one way, you can create so many things with it."
This versatility Paul speaks of isn't just in the way you cook it, but also the way you eat it. Take a look below at a variety of different TOFU CREATIONS prepared by the ALOHA TOFU FACTORY, INC. (photos courtesy of www.aloha-tofu.com)...
As a small local business, Aloha Tofu Factory, Inc., found an opportunity to expand their horizons. Why just be a factory what produces tofu? Why not have a place that people can come in and enjoy these fruits of our labor? With that being said, Paul opened ALOHA TOFU TOWN!
(Located at 735 Iwilei Rd. #304 Honolulu, Hi 96817 at the Dole Cannery)
At this location, people are able to come in and not only taste the TOFU but also order lunch! What? Really? YES!!
(Business Hours at Aloha Tofu Town)
(Tables and chairs are arranged so you can pop in to eat lunch)
When I visited, I tried the LUNCH SPECIAL for the day!
But that's not all they offer. If you come early enough, you'll be lucky to grab a ready-to-eat bento that is prepared that morning in the kitchen. These sell quite quickly as everyone got places to go so be sure you don't miss out!
While I was at ALOHA TOFU FACTORY, Paul told me I needed to also see their frying facility at ALOHA TOFU TOWN. What better way to know where my fried tofu comes from than to see if for myself!
(The tofu is sliced and placed on the commercial fryer)
(They all go for a long ride together)
(These tofu cut in triangles to be fried are called Aburage or deep fried tofu pouches)
(When the Aburage comes out, they are stacked and prepped for packaging)
(Someone hurry and get the rice...I want a cone sushi!)
(Deep Fried Tofu or Atsuage)
The really cool thing that Paul told me is that they do their best not to waste anything. Tofu is made into just about anything and everything at ALOHA TOFU FACTORY, even cookies...
With all that said, I must say that it was such a pleasure to meet Paul and his wonderful employees who really made me appreciate tofu in a whole different light. It takes a lot of work to create this versatile, healthy and unique product! There truly is so many ways to each TOFU and I could probably live my whole life and not fully discover each method...(but I'm willing to try...hahaha).
As a member of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, I knew that ALOHA TOFU FACTORY, INC. was going to be an outstanding business. After sitting with Paul, I realized that his vision of ALOHA TOFU FACTORY doesn't just end with the delivery of the tofu, he has so many ideas that I can't wait to see explored!
Be sure you stop by ALOHA TOFU TOWN and try this MADE IN HAWAII Tofu! Let's support small local businesses in our community!
(Yep, that's me eating again!)