By Chaz Au | Staff Writer 

East Oʻahu has found itself a new healthy restaurant. BYO Bowls (pronounced “bio bowls”) has opened in Hawai‘i Kai Towne Center across from City Mill. Currently, this is the only BYO Bowls in Hawaiʻi. 

According to its website, BYO Bowls wants the customers to take control over what they eat. BYO Bowls is striving to create a healthier community. 

BYO Bowls prides itself in serving fresh ingredients, such as its vegetables and proteins. claims that they are able to satisfy gluten free and vegan customers. Some examples of the vegetables BYO Bowls offers are carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, cucumbers, peas, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, baby corn, onions, and sprouts. For us meat eaters, BYO Bowls also offers chicken, pork, steak, tofu, shrimp, ahi, and kālua pig. BYO Bowls has something to try for people of all diets. Dressings include fuji apple, orange vinaigrette, Asian sesame, and ranch, while the sauces include: Saigon, teriyaki, mandarin, Hawaiian BBQ, ginger, and Sriracha. 

What you see first after stepping into BYO Bowls (Photo by Chaz Au)

After hearing about how delicious, healthy, and reasonably affordable BYO Bowls was, I decided to give it a try. 

The first thing I noticed when entering BYO Bowls was its unique decoration. The inside is decorated light green and is decorated with plenty of plants. For some reason, I felt like I was surrounded by trees. This made me feel like I was about to eat healthy and eat plenty of vegetables. 

When I went to order, I noticed that BYO Bowls has several “default” bowls to choose from. These bowls are the Chinese bowl, Island bowl, Malaysian bowl, Korean bowl, Thai noodle bowl, Japanese bowl, and BYO Salad Bowl. BYO Bowls also offers three different poke bowl called the Aloha bowl, Koko bowl, and Kīlauea bowl. If you do not like those choices, you are also able to customize your own bowl. A regular bowl will consist of vegetables, rice, and one of the protein foods listed above with a sauce. All of the bowls cost between $10 to $11.50, which was more expensive than I thought. I was expecting the bowl to cost between $8 to $10.

The Island Bowl from BYO Bowls (Photo by Chaz Au)

After about 30 seconds of debate within my head I chose to order the Island bowl. The island bowl consists of white rice, boy choy, broccoli, carrots, edamame, mushrooms, red onions, and kālua pig with the Hawaiian BBQ sauce. However, I ordered mine without any mushrooms or red onions. The Island bowl costs $10.47 with tax included.

After you order, you sit at a table and wait for your food to be delivered. I waited about 5 minutes so the wait was fairly short. The bowl comes out hot, but not so hot so that you can’t eat it right away. The rice is at the bottom of the bowl, while the vegetables are in the middle and the meat is on top covered in sauce.

I really enjoyed the kālua pork with the Hawaiian BBQ sauce. The sauce also mixed in with the vegetables and rice giving the entire bowl a stronger flavor. The vegetables are also quality and went well with the kālua pork. After eating the whole thing, my stomach was satisfied but was not completely full. I feel like customers should get a slightly larger portion for $10.

Overall, I would recommend going to try BYO Bowls because there is something to eat for everyone. It is slightly expensive but the food tastes excellent and its as healthy of food that you will find in Hawai‘i Kai. On days where I don’t feel like cooking, I will definitely consider going to BYO Bowls as one of my favorite places to eat on East Oʻahu.