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Sam Choy's Kai Lanai 2014 Rancher’s Dinner

Sam Choy's Kai Lanai was filled to capacity for the Rancher's Dinner.Sam Choy's Kai Lanai was filled to capacity for the Rancher's Dinner.On Friday, February 28, 2014, Chef Scott Hiraishi, Executive Chef of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai Restaurant, presented an outstanding Five Course Plus menu in appreciation of the many ranchers, farmers and purveyors that supply their kitchen with island grown bounty. Besides the farmers and ranchers present, the invited guests to the party included media and friends. All guests received a beautiful wooden handled steak knife engraved with the event name and restaurant logo and a ‘feed sack’ full of goodies.

The Hawai’i Lowline Cattle Co. LLC is one of the beef providers for the restaurant. Owned by Rick and Haleakala Sakata and Tammie and Dwayne Cypriano, the ranch is spread out through 3 beautiful pastures in approximately 230 acres at the 2,200 elevation on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea in the Ahualoa ahupua’a of the Hamakua moku.

RanchersDinnerLowlineCattle4Happy animals at Hawai’i Lowline Cattle Co.The area consists of very deep, rich soil which contributes to the abundant lush grasses upon which the cattle graze. The antibiotic- and hormone-free cattle are moved through three different pastures at different stages; they are kept in one during breeding and the first few months of the calves’ lives; moved to another while weaning the yearlings; and then to the last one for ‘finishing’ before taken to the processing plant.

The company has been in existence for a bit over 6 years and raises only 100% all natural Lowline Angus beef cattle and is certified by the American Certified Grassfed Association (AGA) and Animal Welfare Approved (AWA). At the time of my visit their inventory consisted of 2 bulls, 40 cows and lots of calves. The calves are kept with their moms for about 5 or 6 months before being moved to the ‘yearling’ pasture.

To be Animal Welfare Approved, the company goes through a rigorous process, follows a long list of restrictions, keeps meticulous records and is subject to annual audits and inspections. To maintain the AWA certification, the processing plant is also required to be audited. The ranch owners are proud of their certification and prefer to follow and meet the strict standards because it keeps them consistent and lets their customers know the animals are treated as humanely as possible.

Restaurant chefs are encouraged to visit the ranch and select the cattle they want. The animals chosen are reserved for them and when they reach the finishing point, the ranch delivers it to the processing plant at a predetermined time where the animal is cut to the restaurant’s or chef’s specifications and then taken directly to the chef’s kitchen.

The Sakatas and Cyprianos prefer to keep their cattle as stress-free as possible. From birth to maturity they are raised with pono, to make the transition from pasture to processing plant in the most humane manner possible. This ensures that their all natural, 100% grass-fed beef is as tender and flavorful as possible.

The owners of Kona Moringa, a small, family owned business, are Ron Yamashita, Sr. and Ty Yamashita. Their farm, located at an elevation of 700 feet in Captain Cook, presently cultivates a 3/4 acre piece of land planted with about 500 moringa trees and a few other fruit trees. The farm is looking to expand this year to be able to keep up with growing demand.

MoringapodsandleavesphotobyKonaMoringaMoringa pods and leaves, a nutritious food that has long been underutilized in Hawai'i, is now receiving mainstream attention.Known as “the miracle tree,” and “the tree of life,” native to Asia and Africa, there are 12 known species of Moringa. Most of the literature references the variety named moringa oleifera. The leaves, flowers, pods and even the roots are edible. Moringa contains a total of 92 different nutrients, including essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and protein.

The Yamashitas began growing moringa from seeds ordered from India about three years ago as an experiment to determine if it would actually improve their health, after reading about the nutritional and medicinal properties of the leaves and as a way to validate the claims made about the plant.

They follow organic principles, using no pesticides or sprays, but are not certified organic. All of their products are grown and processed locally in Kona. In January 1, 2013, they began processing moringa leaves into powder. They now also offer tea, capsules and oils made from the mature seeds.

Besides their website, their products and seedlings are available at the Keauhou Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

Just a bit over 8 months ago, Roberta (Berta) Ruddle Jaques, started developing flour made from surplus ‘ulu (breadfruit). About 4 months ago she started her company, The Hawaiian ‘Ulu Company LLC.

Product samples from the newly minted Hawaiian 'Ulu Company of Kahalu'u, Kona.Product samples from the newly minted Hawaiian 'Ulu Company of Kahalu'u, Kona.The ‘ulu grove she harvests is located on Kamehameha Schools Land in Kahalu’u Mauka, in Kona. Since the fruit has such a short shelf-life, after finding herself with an abundance of ‘ulu at one time, and after reading about similar experiments in Samoa and Haiti, Berta decided to experiment with turning the surplus fruit into gluten-free flour, considerably extending the shelf-life.

Although the grove is not certified organic, no pesticides are used.

At this time the company is working on developing flour, pancake and waffle mixes. When ready to go commercial, the company will advertise via a new website and on their Facebook page.

The 2014 Rancher’s Dinner Menu

Hors D’oeuvres – Kim Chee Flank Steak Poke, Hamakua Mushroom Poke, Thai Lettuce Cups

Course One – Ishi Yaki, Beef Tenderloin; Japanese Hot Stone Cooking. Served with Furikake Rice. Honey Dew Melon Saketini on the side.

Course Two – Sashimi Style Seared Cow Tongue & Garlic Hamakua Mushrooms served on a Living Aquaponics Salad with Sam Choy’s Signature Oriental Dressing and garnished with Hawaiian ‘Ulu Company (Breadfruit Flour) Cow Shaped Cracker.

Course Three – Local Style Oxtail Soup with Peanuts, Cilantro, Bok Choi and Chopped Moringa Kalamungay Pods.

Intermezzo – Tropical Dreams Guava Sorbet.

Course Four – Asian Braised Short Rib-Eye Steak with Shiitake Mushroom Cream Sauce served with Tempura Pioppini Mushrooms, Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Sautéed Baby Bok Choi.

Course Five – Chef Scott’s Chocolate Macaroon Cow Pie, complete with Horse Fly, featuring Original Hawaiian Chocolate and UCC Ueshima Coffee Company’s Kona Coffee Ice Cream and edible flowers as garnish.

Ranchers, farmers and purveyors whose products were used in the above menu were:

Hawai'i Lowline Cattle – Honoka’a, Hamakua

Animal Welfare Approved 

Hawaiian 'Ulu Company – Kailua, Kona

Roberta ‘Berta’ Jacques
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Kona Moringa – Captain Cook, Kona

Ronald (Ron) & Ty Yamashita
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Hamakua Mushrooms – Laupahoehoe, Hamakua

Lani Weigert

Living Aquaponics – Keei, Kona

Sunshower Farms – Holualoa, Kona

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Hawai'i Big Island Beef - Hamakua

Tropical Dreams Ice Cream - Waimea

Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company – Keauhou, Kona

Honda Farms Heirloom Tomatoes

Kulana Foods

UCC Ueshima Coffee Company

Onaka Cowboy 100% Kona Coffee


To read more about the dinner, menu and photos, please visit http://www.soniatasteshawaii.com/2014/03/2014-ranchers-dinner-at-sam-choys-kai-lanai.html.


Sonia R. Martinez, the Hawai'i Homegrown Food Network regular farmers market reporter, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka'a. She is a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine; and has her own food & garden blog at www.soniatasteshawaii.com.

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