Açaí bowls are all the rage right now. Loaded with fruits and antioxidants, it’s become my healthier breakfast of choice. There was an açaí place downstairs from my office, which I loved, but then they closed,… 😦 I have been on a mission to find the best açaí bowl on the island ever since.
With LOTS of choices (a lot within a three block radius of my office in downtown Honolulu) I decided to do a rundown of the places that I’ve recently visited.
HI Cravings — (TAPG Rating: B+)
HI Cravings definitely gets my vote for the prettiest, most photo-worthy açaí bowl!! Their creations are really works of art!! I also LOVE that grapes, pineapples, strawberries, bananas, and sometimes even melon (depending on the season) come standard with the bowl. For a little extra you can add scoops of cookie dough (as I did above), chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter, chocolate drizzle, caramel drizzle, cookie butter (what?!), nutella, or even their very own chocolate covered strawberries! If you are of the healthier sort, they also have almond butter, bee pollen, toasted coconut, and hemp seeds available.
I really loved the variety of fruit in their bowl and the cookie dough was a very interesting addition!! It gave me a tiny sense of cheating while indulging in all that fruity goodness. The consistency and the taste of the açaí were good (I choice the regular, not the sorbet) not too sweet (which I like), but a little on the “light” side. All in all a very good and solid açaí bowl! I’d definitely go back.
Bogart’s Cafe — (TAPG Rating: A+)
I recently tried Bogart’s and even if they are a little out of the way (all the way in Kaimuki!) their açaí bowl is probably the best that I have ever eaten… and might even rival the bowl I so fondly remember from downstairs at my office years ago!
To start, the bowl is HUGE!! I don’t think the photos above do justice to its size! I admit to being a voracious açaí eater and even I couldn’t finish the bowl in one sitting!! And just look at all the fresh fruits in there – it was filled with LOADS of bananas, strawberries, and blueberries!! The açaí base is what I really love, though. It’s VERY sorbet in texture (which I love) and has just the right amount of tang and sweetness.
Bogart’s doesn’t have fancy assortment of fruits or different kinds of bases, but what they do, they do EXTREMELY well!! Bogart’s also makes a variety of breakfast and brunch items (which I heard are equally as fabulous!) so it’s no surprise that they would have lines out the door during the weekends. I’ve heard the wait can be up to 40 minutes! But I believe it’s all just a testament to the quality of their food. I would DEFINITELY go back and fight the crowd for another taste of their açaí!!
Hawaiian Aroma Caffe – (TAPG Rating: B+)
Aroma caffe is a little coffee place inside the Pacific Davies building, across the street from my office. They mostly specialize in coffee and an array of paninis, but they also sell açaí bowls.
Their bowls come with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, coconut (which I ask them to leave off), granola, and bee pollen. Their fruits are fresh and their granola is of the “chunky sort” (which I love!) as opposed to the “loose sort”. The açaí base is sorbet-like both in texture and taste. In fact, it’s one of the sweetest bases that I’ve eaten. If you like sweet, this bowl is for you! I tend to prefer my base with a little more tartness, but that’s just me.
Every week day from 2pm – 4pm, they have a Happy Hour special: 15% off their açaí bowls. It’s a great way for me to get an afternoon açaí fix at a very good price.
Lanikai Juice – (TAPG Rating: A+)
For several months, Lanikai Juice was my açaí place of choice!! Not even the 2 mile round trip walk to and from my office in the morning would deter me from getting my Lanikai! At one point, I think I was going every morning (until I realized that’s where all my paychecks were going…)
What makes Lanikai’s açaí so great is their base! Their blend is so rich, and full of flavor and just tart enough! The base goes really well with the warm honey they pour over the bowl and though it’s a little less sorbet-ish than other places I’ve tried, it certainly is the best tasting! The regular size bowl is enough to fill me up – and I’d always order the extravaganza bowl (that comes with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, granola, and coconut – but I’d substitute warm honey in place of the coconut and add almonds.) It truly is heaven in a bowl!!
Juic’d — (TAPG Rating: A-)
Juic’d is located upstairs in the building across from Lanikai Juice in Kakaako. The one thing that makes me sad about Juic’d is that they only open at 7am on Monday and Thursdays (which is the only time I can go since I can only go before work…) all other days they open at 10:00a.
The thing I love about them is that all of their many toppings are free and come with the bowl! I ended up covering my bowl with blueberries, strawberries, banana, granola, pepitas (!!!), sunflower seeds, almonds, and organic honey. The extra toppings gave the bowl a richness that I loved (especially with all the nuts I added!). The açaí base is softer, and has less of a sorbet texture and is just a little tart. It was probably the healthiest açaí bowl that I’ve tried and it was great tasting too!! I just wish they opened earlier!
Blue Tree — (TAPG Rating: B)
Blue Tree Cafe is a little coffee shop on Kapiolani Blvd. Their cafe is cozy (with some nice outdoor seating) and everyone is so friendly. Their açaí bowls come in rather large inverted pyramid shaped containers. And they give you a cute, reusable bag (which is complimentary with a purchase!)
I tried the “tropical” açaí bowl that came with pineapples and coconut (which I asked them to leave off and substituted honey). I should’ve tried their signature Blue Tree blend (which has the blueberries, strawberries, and bananas) Oh well… next time! The açaí was thick with a very interesting texture (almost as if it was whipped) and the thing I loved about it was that they lined the container with granola first, then added the açaí, then added more granola. That way, I was assured that even as I got to the bottom, each spoonful would not be granola-less. 🙂
Jamba Juice — (TAPG Rating: C+)
Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Jamba Juice! In fact, I sometimes dream about their red gummy smoothie, but for açaí bowls, I think I prefer the smaller local places. The açaí base itself was tasty and the granola was pretty good (though it was of the “loose” variety), but it seemed a bit standard after having tasted some of the others.
Chef T — (TAPG Rating: B)
Chef T is a little stand inside Pioneer Plaza (across the street in the other direction) from my office in downtown Honolulu. The thing that makes Chef T unique is that the açaí is poured on a freezer plate and rolled (similar to Thai ice cream). It’s a very unique concept!!
The açaí base is a little lighter, both in flavor and in texture. I also like the variety of fresh fruits that Chef T uses. In addition to bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, he also adds oranges, raspberries, and blackberries!! I asked for peanut butter and honey instead of their traditional greek yogurt and they topped it off with a nice orange zest!! It was light and refreshing and had a nice citrus-y flavor!!!
Vita-Juice — (TAPG Rating: B)
Vita Juice is a small, side shop along Fort Street Mall in downtown Honolulu. It’s literally steps from my office and I’ve heard a lot of good things about them, so I thought I’d give them a try. The shop is owned by a VERY nice lady, who I could tell takes a lot of pride in her work.
The açaí base is good, a little on the creamy side and the granola is of the chunky variety and they add A LOT of fruits!! Look at the blueberries in the photo above, they were MONSTEROUS in size! All in all, a solid açaí bowl.
Daizu-Tei @ Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market — (TAPG Rating: B-)
This place gets my vote for the most unique fruits! Their bowls (or cups, really) are filled with bananas, strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, (sometimes kiwi and raspberries!) Their signage doesn’t lie, it is absolutely LOADED with fruits! The açaí base is very creamy and felt more like a smoothie than an açaí bowl (I tend to prefer it more tart and less smoothie-ish – not a word, I know…) Still, a good açaí option, especially if you like your açaí base creamy and want something cool after walking around the KCC Farmer’s Market in the sun all day long!
Straub — (TAPG Rating: C)
It wasn’t until a co-worker of mine told me, but I had no idea that Straub Clinic had a coffee shop that sold açaí bowls!! Imagine my surprise when she told us that she was going to leave work for a blood test AND get an açaí while she was there. She was nice enough to take me there one mid-morning so I could try their açaí bowls for myself.
The Straub açaí bowls are loaded with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. The açaí base is a tad bit on the creamy side, but is so cold that it doesn’t have the smoothie texture AT ALL, which I like. The fruits seem to be frozen as well. The best part of all is that the bowl is very reasonable. At $5.75 for a small, you can’t beat it.
So there you have it, a quick (or not so quick…) rundown of the açaí places that I recently tried. If you have a favorite that wasn’t mentioned that you think I should try, please leave a comment below. I’m always excited to try new places!!!
Note: All photos taken by Sheri (aka Tiny Asian Pastry Girl)