The Rice Factory on Oahu is a true Hawaii gem. Here you can get fresh rice milled on the spot alongside other Japanese treats like onigiri and ohagi.
The Rice Factory
I go back and forth between Hawaii and San Francisco often. And on every flight to SF, guarantee you can find a five-pound bag of rice in my carry-on suitcase. The rice is from The Rice Factory, and this is the main rice we eat at home in both Hawaii and SF. We keep many different types of rice (mochi rice! arborio rice! purple rice!) in the pantry, but this is our go-to, dinner-at-home rice. We love it very much.
The Rice Factory has a tiny retail stop in Kaka'ako. The bulk of their business is restaurant wholesale (you can find their rice at served at MW Restaurant, Halekulani, Hy's Steak House, etc.), but they have a devoted retail following...
How it works
There are three parking stalls so hope you get lucky. When you walk into the store, you'll see giant bags with six different types of rice (all from Japan). The 6th option is mochi rice, so you probably don't want that for your daily rice.
I usually get Yumepirika ($15.99 for five pounds) or Nanatsuboshi ($13.99 for five pounds) since we go through A LOT of rice at home.
Once you pick your rice, select what percentage of polishing/milling you desire:
- 0% = brown rice
- 50% = this is the one we usually get
- 70% = they call this one a good intro to brown rice
- 100% = white rice
Neat, right? All rice starts as brown rice, but the more you polish away, the more white the rice gets. A 100% polish is what's known as white rice. They mill the rice on the spot in the back room (there's a window if you want to watch them mill).
The rice is hand-packed in pretty paper bags and it's still warm when they hand it over. Such joy! This warm rice feel reminds me of that happy, warm laundry feel.
I think of the shop as having four sections: rice, home goods, pantry/frozen, and food.
The home goods part has everything from plates and cups, chopsticks, donabes, and these cute bento boxes.
The pantry goods has everything from tinned fish (so many different kinds, I'm working my way through them all), furikake, miso soup mix, sushi vinegar, bonito flakes, nori, etc. There is also a freezer box with ikura (when in season) and other treats.
On certain days, they'll also offer food made in store. This ranges from fresh drinks like this vinegar drink...
...where you can opt to add soda and/or honey, to onigiri (I haven't seen those in awhile so be sure to get a few if you spot them), and...
Ohagi!!!! It's surprisingly had to find good ohagi in Hawaii. The Rice Factory keeps changing what days the make ohagi. Currently (summer 2019), it's available on Sundays.
Ohagi are Japanese sweets made of mochi rice. The mochi rice is cooked, and formed into a tight (but not too tight) ball, and then wrapped with red bean paste. The Rice Factory's trio container always has two regular ohagi and a third one that's dusted in crushed, toasted rice. That one is my favorite heheh.
I like visiting The Rice Factory because they keep changing things. My mom and I are always finding reasons to stop by. Always new food products. New drinks, new snacks. I learn a little bit more with each visit, that's also a happy feeling. Till next time ^_^
The Rice Factory: Insider Tips
- If you can't get to the store, The Rice Factory has a regular stall at the Kakaa'ko Farmer's Market (Saturdays, 8am-12pm). They are also often at the Pearlridge Mall and Windward Mall Farmer's Market (call to confirm dates/times).
- If five-pound bag is too much rice, they also have tiny pre-packed one-pound bags.
- Did you know giving rice as a gift is considered good luck? Load up on the one-pound bag for little office/holiday gifts.
- Store the uncooked rice in the refrigerator. It will be fresh for a month (this is why I buy in smaller five-pound bags as opposed to a ten-pound bag)
- Take advantage of their website - it has much valuable (and interesting!) information like details on degrees of rice polishing and the correct way to cook rice.
INFO: The Rice Factory | 955 Kawaiahao Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 | (808) 800-1520 | trf-us.com/en
COST: Prices start at $13.99 for a five-pound bag of rice. Snacks and drinks (when available), and pantry items start at $3.
HOURS: Mon: 10am-6pm, Tues: closed, Wed-Sat: 10am-6pm, Sun: 10am-4pm