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“Vanilla Experience Luncheon - tasty, enlightening, and fun” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hawaiian Vanilla Company

Hawaiian Vanilla Company
43-2007 Paauilo Mauka Road, Paauilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96776
(877) 771-1771
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Ranked #2 of 2 Restaurants in Paauilo
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Cuisines: Hawaiian
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Frankfort, Illinois
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Vanilla Experience Luncheon - tasty, enlightening, and fun”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2014

Our eccentric enthusiastic host, Jim, proudly walked us thru his vanillery . Jim and his kids served a delicious vanilla themed lunch while we learned about this prized spice. Jim actually encourages his guests to lick their plates. The man clearly loves his plants, each of which is pollinated by hand. Who knew vanilla is an orchid. The lunch and tour is a great way to spend a few hours when you have had enough of the lava and the beach.

  • Visited May 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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53 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    32
    12
    4
    2
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Southern California
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Amazing, Unique Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2014

When my husband and I planned our trip to the Big Island, we started researching different food places around the island. My husband came across a recommendation for the Hawaii Vanilla Company, which instantly piqued my interest because I love vanilla. After looking at our options and what free time we had, we decided to book the Vanilla Presentation and Tasting.

Driving out to the Hawaii Vanilla Company was a bit of a trek, especially coming from Kona. It's a bit off the beaten path, but you quickly realize that the drive and hassle to get here is well worth it.

Our tour guide for the day was Ian, one of the sons of the owners of Hawaii Vanilla Company. He was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the business and the farming and harvesting of vanilla. The entire program was extremely interesting and informative. I never knew that vanilla came from an orchid and needed to be hand-picked and harvested, or that the traditional method of drying the vanilla bean in the sun could take 9 months or that you needed items such as alcohol or citrus to activate vanilla otherwise the vanilla beans on their own are flavorless. It's obvious that Ian really knows what he's doing, understands the business, understands the farming of this delicate plant, and just has a passionate that resonates when he talks about what he and his family have built.

The tasting part of the presentation was incredible. We got way more food that I ever thought we would and we were served vanilla in both sweet and savory applications. It's amazing how vanilla is used and how it can really enhance flavor profiles The roasted red bell pepper and tomato bisque soup with the vanilla herbs was my favorite, but I must also admit that the vanilla banana bread with the vanilla maple syrup was a close second.

My husband and I left the Hawaii Vanilla Company raving over this truly unique experience we had just had. It was one of the best experiences we had during our trip to Hawaii and I would not hesitate to do it again. In fact, I'd recommend anyone who is headed to the Big Island to check out the Hawaii Vanilla Company. It is well worth the time and the effort to learn more about the production and harvesting of vanilla and to taste all the different ways vanilla can enhance food.

In fact, we bought a bunch of vanilla products from their small gift shop to bring home. They will ship in flat rate boxes to your destination of choice, which is what we did, and we received our box of goodies today on our first day back from our vacation. I can't wait to dig into the box and use all my vanilla goodies.

  • Visited May 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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San Diego, CA
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
“Lovely lunch; very personalble host”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2014

The farm offers tours and lunch for $39, and it's well worth it. The owner of the farm welcomed us when we arrived, and immediately gave us delicious lemonade flavored with vanilla while we waited to be seated for lunch. Lunch included tableside-cooked shrimp flavored with vanilla as an appetizer, salad with green leaf lettuce, pecans, cheese, etc., and a vanilla based dressing, chicken sandwiches with bread freshly-baked on the premises, and amazing vanilla ice cream for dessert. Everything was delicious and very filling. Afterwards, Jim (the owner) took the group on a tour of the farm, with a first stop to explain how the vanilla orchid grows and how the beans are harvested. The tour was a little short on sights, but long on information, and very enjoyable, with a nice walk (and friendly neighborhood dogs). Jim is very patient with questions -- it's hard to imagine how he can run the farm and be such a friendly and delightful tour guide every day!

There is also a small gift shop on the premises, with a LOT of very tempting products. They are happy to ship (using flat rate boxes), so we loaded up on vanilla lilikoi dressing, vanilla maple syrup, pancake mix, herb mixes, soap, etc. Our package arrived, everything intact (great packing job!), two days after we got home from Hawaii.

It's a lengthy drive from Kona to the the Vanilla Farm, but we also stopped at the Waimea Farmer's Market on the way there (next door to the Paniolo Museum). The Museum doesn't take much time (seriously -- it's one room), but the farmer's market was full of friendly people selling delicious goodies. A glass of lilikoi juice was a real highlight.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, United States
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Interesting place, great food.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

It is always a pleasure to visit unique places on the Big Island and it's a bonus when the unique place offers great food made from products grown on site. I think this is the only vanilla farm in the US, but even if it isn't, it's well worth the visit.

No only did we love the meal provided as part of the tour, but we purchased several products to take home. We especially like the vanilla lillikoi dressing, a bit spendy but worth every penny.

Visited September 2013
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Bristol, Virginia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Highlight of our trip!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

My husband had been to this gem of a place before with friends. I knew we were going there but the experience was above and beyond what I expected! My husband had secretly made reservations for the luncheon which was well worth the price! The owner himself made the "amuse bouche" while explaining how he and his wife and their 5 children had gotten into the farming of vanilla beans (which, by the way, this is the only vanilla bean farm in the entire United States!). Everything in the lunch (made by Jim's wife Tracy and one of their daughters) had vanilla in it and was sumptuous!! Afterward we were given a tour of the farm which was extremely interesting. It's easy to tell that the owners are very passionate about what they do. We were able to get the recipe for the "amuse bouche" and bought all of the items to make this wonderful appetizer. We had the items shipped and all arrived undamaged and in a very timely manner. Jim even included some black Hawaiian sea salt for the recipe! I would highly recommend this amazing experience to anyone!

  • Visited March 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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