Do you have one of those memories from so long ago that as the years pass, you can’t tell if it was a dream? One that lingers with me: eating breakfast with my Grandpa before school. It was always hot chocolate – which always burned my tongue – and rolling little balls of cheese cut from a Velvetta cheese log which I then planted into a roughly cut slice of King’s Hawaiian bread before eating.
For the longest time, I knew no other bread. The only ones I ate for a while was pandesal and, of course, King’s Hawaiian original stone loaf. My bread diet was eventually supplemented with fill-in-sliced-white-bread-of-your-choice for school lunches and eventually I gave up bread for lunch almost completely in exchange for figure-friendly salads.
So imagine my glee in being invited on a factory tour of King’s Hawaiian in L.A.
King’s Hawaiian produces all their bread in two factories in L.A. county and a newly opened factory in Atlanta, Georgia. But prior to moving the entire operations to Southern California, they had their start in Hawaii.
King’s original bakery was based in Hilo, which first opened its doors in the 1950s by Robert Taira. Wanting to expand, he eventually moved the bakery a few years later to Honolulu on King St. where the brand got their name and reformulated their product to have a shelf life of 14 days – a recipe which stands today. And like the original recipe, the Taira family are still at the helm. You can find the Taira family everywhere: from the president to online marketing, working the shops and on the factory floor as well.
So with enthusiasm the Taira family opened up their factory doors to food bloggers – a first for the company. After donning hairnets, we were escorted down to the factory floors to experience their bread making process.
Having never been on the factory floor of a major bread manufacturer, the floor of King’s Hawaiian is very much what you expect out of a big, MASSIVE kitchen — tons of bakeware and ingredients to make the bread. During our tour, they were producing rolls of their honey wheat rolls.
Sheet by sheet, fresh rolls were coming out of the machines ready to be packaged in the bright orange packaging. But a highlight of the factory tour was eating the piping-hot, freshly baked rolls with butter. And as many as you can eat.
But the food didn’t stop there. In true Hawaiian hospitality, there was even more food once the factory tour was over. Waiting for us outside was a full spread from various L.A. food trucks, each serving up lunch incorporating King’s Hawaiian bread in both savory and sweet dishes. My favorite was the fresh lobster meat on a toasted King’s Hawaiian hot dog bun — a new item from King’s Hawaiian — from the Lobsta Truck.
Other things served included sliders from the Kogi, cinnamon fresh toast sticks from the Buttermilk Truck, chicken with King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls from the Ludo Truck and various sausages and burgers with members of the Taira family manning the grill.
And the desserts! There were so many choices, many of which can be found at King’s Hawaiian Restaurant and Bakery. One standout was a warm and gooey white and dark chocolate bread pudding served with Grand Marnier Sauce, created by the granddaughter of Robert Taira.
If I had a bucket list (I don’t), I can scratch this experience off of it.
Thank you to King’s Hawaiian for a memorable day I won’t soon forget!