As the summer vacation season begins, beaches, mountains, or theme parks may be on many local family agendas, but experiencing a taste of Hawaiian culture is closer than diners might expect. Aloha Kitchen, located inside From 6th Collective in Bushland, gives diners the chance to eat authentic Hawaiian dishes and enjoy Aloha culture.  

Owner “Aunty” Lisa moved to Canyon to attend West Texas A&M University from the Big Island of Hawai’i more than a decade ago. Her desire to share Aloha culture and delicious food in her adopted landlocked community led her to open the Aloha Kitchen food truck, which became the stationary restaurant of the same name.

Aloha means many things in the Hawaiian Islands, including the contrasting hello and goodbye—but it also means grace, kindness, compassion, and love. Aunty Lisa’s food is the fulfillment of all the promises of Aloha, and her warm, generous spirit is expressed in every bite. 

Aloha Kitchen offers dishes as close to what a diner might experience on the Big Island every day, and Aunty Lisa has painstakingly perfected her recipes over many weeks and months of trial and error. The focused menu offers one or two daily specials, plus some foundational meals that can be ordered almost every day. 

Aunty Lisa says it took dozens of tries to perfect her Kalua Pork before she decided it was ready to be released as a menu item. Kalua Pork is a celebration dish traditionally cooked underground in a pit called an imu. But Aunty Lisa says the use of authentic Hawaiian salt to flavor the pork is just as important to its flavor as the slow-roast cooking. She tried assorted brands and salts from different regions of the island before finding the one she uses, which reminds her most of home.  

The result is rich, fork-tender Kalua Pork so delicate that it melts like Melona ice cream on a diner’s tongue. The taste is deeply meaty, but also slightly smoky and perfectly salted. Served with freshly cooked rice and crisp, crunchy, shredded green cabbage, the textures harmonize, alone—but are lifted with a dousing of Aunty Lisa’s Katsu sauce. She developed the Katsu Sauce itself (available bottled for $7) alongside the other building blocks of the Aloha Kitchen menu. It’s a juicy, sweet barbeque sauce that is deeply flavored with warm spices. Diners will reach for this condiment throughout their meal—out of enjoyment rather than necessity. 

Another of Aunty Lisa’s specialties are the weekly waffles, which are often featured as brunch options on the weekends. Pumpkin Spice waffles were on the menu regularly for a while. Strawberry and Banana Nut waffles have also been menu mainstays.

Diners should check the cooler and pick up a jar (or two!) of Aunty Clara’s Lilikoi Butter. Made from passion fruit, the creamy smooth sauce has a caramel-like texture and can be eaten on toast, over ice cream, as a marinade for any meat. (Or, let’s face it, straight from the jar.) The sharp tartness of the mango-like passion fruit juice is concentrated, but not overpowering. It tastes bright but pleasant, like how the sun feels on your face when it first breaks through the clouds after a few rainy days.

Aloha Kitchen says it offers food so good it will make you forget your name, and while that might happen, make sure to remember the Hawaiian word mahalo—which translates to a hearty thank you—and you can thank me later. 

18100 I-40 West inside From 6th Collective

Open Thursday through Saturday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, lunch and dinner