Cone sushi is a staple at parties, tailgates or just the dinner table, but it's becoming harder and harder to get since the largest supplier of the "cone", Kanai Tofu Factory, closed its doors.
Dennis and Dulcie Honda are third-generation tofu makers and believe they'll be the last to carry on the nearly 100-year-old tradition. Like other small businesses, they're hurting from the rise in product and operation costs.
"And there's an influx of mainland brands who can sell their tofu for a lot cheaper because they're not paying for freight like we are. We're paying for those bags of beans to come across the ocean," said Dulcie Honda of Honda Tofu.
Honda Tofu owners said they are supported by loyal customers who appreciate the quality of their locally made product, and that has helped business tremendously. They've also picked up a few accounts from Kanai, which closed suddenly in August. Kanai was the biggest supplier of age, the "cone" for cone sushi, and competing factories can't pick up the slack.
"We weren't taking orders, and it was just kind of day by day. Some days we have, some days we don't," said Justin Tanioka, general manager of Tanioka's.
Tanioka's, a popular delicatessen in Waipahu, had been buying products from both Kanai and Aloha Tofu. That eased the pain of the Kanai shutdown.
But even when Tanioka's had a steady supply of age, product consistency was still an issue.
"We were returning quite a lot because the inside is not cooked enough or the outside is overcooked. So there's a lot of technical things that go into making age, making good age," said Tanioka.
Honda's owners said that's why they stopped making the bean curd product, because the process was temperamental and time-consuming.
Another local tofu maker that does produce age said it will not be able meet the demand for age, which is used in jai and cone sushi, especially toward the holidays.