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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

McDonald's taro pies? Chance 'em

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

So you're sitting at home filling the void with high school volleyball because the Wahine road games aren't televised, but this is a close second with Shoji's two boys playing plus McLachlin's kid and Kanoe's sister and just when you're getting into the groove, this crusty purple thing comes dancing across your screen.

You turn to look at the family to make sure you're not hallucinating.

Did they just say McDonald's TARO pie?

You can tell by the way everyone's jaw is hanging slack that they heard it, too.

It's for real. And it's only 99 cents.

Here's the thing: If you go in thinking "manju," then it's all right. Pretty good, even.

But if you have some sort of kulolo expectations, forget it. You going be sad.

McDonald's first test-drove the taro pies earlier this year on Maui. The taro pies are part of the regular menu on McDonald's restaurants in Asia. As the story goes, Hawai'i people traveling abroad came across the exotic item and told the folks back home, "Eh, you guys should have that, too. Local people would like it."

So they tried it and we tried it.

Must be those Maui people gave it the thumbs up because here they are at McDonald's around the state and dancing on the television during breaks in high school volleyball championship games. (OK, not dancing, but looking pretty jaunty.) And you can trust Maui people about taste: Shishido manju, Tasaka guri guri, Azeka meat, Minit Stop potato wedges Maui has a long history of knowing what is 'ono.

So what do they taste like? Like a McDonald's apple pie with purple taro where the apple should be.

Not gray-purple. Purple-purple.

And not sticky like poi or thick like pa'i'ai, but chunky, like cubes of purple taro held together by sweet purple sauce. It's not an overtly taro taste. Not like taro chips or baked kalo or that "bird's nest" stuff they have at fancy Chinese restaurants. It's subtle, more like Okinawan sweet potato.

It's not Ted's Pies quality, but it's something like Home Maid Bakery's manju from Maui.

Except hot.

(Guy Hagi famously calls McDonald's apple pies "lava in a crust" this is purple lava in a crust.)

Calories? If you must ask, you can't afford 'em.

Bottom line, pretty much anything you shove in that McDonald's fried pie crust is gonna be a winner. A big, fat greasy winner.

McDonald's hamburgers may not work as teri burgers, but the pie crust is universal.

Guava jelly pie, he go.

Mango chutney pie, he go.

Spam and eggs pie. Going be something like one Hot Pocket, right? Try. He go.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.