Some Like It Hot - Really Hot!

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - June 25, 2008
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Jordan Khan (front), Mike Khan, Thomas Khan and Beverly Matsuura
Jordan Khan (front), Mike Khan, Thomas Khan and Beverly Matsuura have mild and hot stuff in their store It’s Chili in Hawaii

Hot! Hot! Hot! It’s Chili in Hawaii has brought in one of the hottest sauces in the world, made from the powerful Naga Jolokia pepper.

“This is hotter than the hottest pepper from the Guinnesss Book of World Records,” says Beverly Matsuura, who owns the shop with her husband, Mike Khan.

While the boutique does have lots of hot stuff, not everything in the store is super spicy. Some are mild. The shop has tamales, pepper jellies, spice rubs, chili mixes, black beans, garbanzo beans, dried chili. They also carry novelty items such as pepper-shaped earrings, serving dishes, and containers

“We carry the New Mexico green chili,” notes Matsuura. “If you’re from Hawaii, and you’re on the Mainland, you’ll be looking for Hawaiian food or poi wherever you go. If you’re from New Mexico, you’ll be looking for this green chili. I’ve had people kiss the floor and hug me when they find this chili.”

For those who could use some new ideas about what to make, there is an open house every Saturday starting at 11 a.m. The store features a sample of how to use one of their products, and the samples are available until they run out.

Matsuura and Khan say they are truly a mom-and-pop operation, and their “junior sales staff” includes son Jordan, 4. His 8-month-old brother Thomas is in training.

Matsuura’s retail background with Khan’s cooking experience in hotels make for a great combination for the store.

Gary Toyama ran the store for three years after his business partner Ken Martinez passed away in 2003. When Toyama considered retiring and selling all the inventory, Matsuura and Khan worked it out with Toyama in 2006 to take over the store as they were distributors of a chili garlic pea product from Australia.

“Right when we took over, that’s when gas prices and shipping started going up,” says Matsuura, a McKinley grad. “To keep our prices the same, we started to consolidate our shipping in California, and then have it shipped here by boat. We have to order two weeks ahead and try to predict the future.”

For the hot scale, there is a measurement called the Scoville heat units. Tabasco, for example, is 2,500. The high end of the scale is 16 million Scoville heat units.

“People seem to be able to take up to six million Scoville units,” explains Matsuura. “If people want something hotter than that, we can special order it.”

It’s Chili in Hawaii is located at 2080 S. King Street, No 101. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday. For more information, call 945-7070.


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