Social Encore: Rice everything at Rice Fest

Sep. 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Jermel-Lynn Quillopo / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Who loves rice? I do! I do! The 6th annual Rice Fest is happening this Saturday at Ward Village from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and there are tons of things to do, watch and eat.

Rice Festival Founder Ed Sugimoto’s parents emigrated from Japan, his dad from Tokyo and his mother from Kyoto. Being raised on rice, he thought that it would be a great way to honor not only his own culture but Hawaii’s culture as well.

“I love rice and thought, ‘Why doesn’t anyone have a festival of rice?’” Sugimoto said. “I thought that there should be a rice festival and Hawaii is a perfect place to have it since it’s known to have a melting pot of cultures.”

CTY musubi 39366


» Where: Ward Village
» When: 10 a.m. to 5 p p.m. Saturday
» Cost: free
» Info:
» Note: The event will take place at the Office Depot Parking lot, behind the Ward Theatre parking structure

With rice being a major culinary foundation to many cultures, the festival will take you on a tour around the world with many ono rice dishes. For the first time this year, the festival has partnered up with Street Grindz and will feature more than 10 vendors. Vendors like Aloha Pops will help you cool down during the heat with a Japan Ichigo Daifuku Pop. If you thought that Mexican food and Japanese cuisine is more your style, stop by Beyond Burgers and try its Okinawan taco rice. For more traditional dishes, The Fish Lady will be serving Japanese mochiko fish and Local Stop will have a juicy Hawaiian loco moco waiting for you. If you like desert, Girls Who Bake will have a Filipino Bod-Bod.

In the past, the festival has been able to set Guinness World records. Records include the biggest spam musubi, pictured, weighing in at 628 pounds, and the biggest loco moco, weighing in at 1,126 pounds. Although there will be no record setting activities this year, there will be two eating contests. There will be a musubi eating contest — whoever is the first to eat 10 musubis within three minutes wins a $100 gift card. There is a poke bowl eating contest with poke bowls provided by Paina Café. Whoever is the first to finish three bowls of Paina Café poke bowls wins a $100 gift card as well.

A fun activity that will happening on stage during the festival is the “Riceipe” cooking contest. Four chefs and four television personalities will team up together to prepare rice-influenced dishes. Chefs include Chef Andy Dalan of Proud Peacock Restaurant at Waimea Valley, Chef Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi of Tokkuri-Tei, Chef Hide Yoshimoto of Izakaya Torae Torae and Chef Christopher Gee of La Tour Café. A panel of judges will judge the dishes based on taste, creativity, simplicity and visual appeal.

The Rice Festival’s primary initiative is to bring awareness to Lanakila Meals on Wheels, an island-wide meal service for seniors.

“The reason why we chose Lanakila Meals on Wheels is because it makes me think about my grandma,” said Sugimoto. “ I can’t imagine how it would be if she couldn’t receive food on a regular basis.”

Monetary and brown rice donations will be accepted all day long at the Lanakila Pacific booth at the Rice Festival.

For more information about the Rice Festival, visit

Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.

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