Eat & Drink

10 Incredible Foods You Must Try When In Hawaii

Hawaii is a melting pot of different cultures – Portuguese, Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino – and there are just some dishes that are synonymous with the local culture that everyone should eat on their next trip over – no matter which island you’re visiting. Here are the top Hawaii food trends you must experience in the state.

#1 Poke

A post shared by My Menu Inc. (@mymenuinc) on

Poke (pronounced as poh-kay) translates to “sliced pieces”, usually of fresh, raw seafood, marinated in the sauce of your choosing. The most popular variety is ahi (yellowfin tuna) poke, but there’s also salmon, octopus and more. You can have it on its own or have it as a bowl served on a bed of rice with a variety of vegetables. This is the hottest Hawaii food trend – get on it.

#2 Shave Ice

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by hyejin (@lime4505) on


There’s shave ice and then there’s Hawaiian-style ones where it’s so finely shaven that what you eat is what you imagine clouds would taste like. Dress your shave ice in flavoured syrup like lilikoi (passionfruit), li hing mui (salty dried plum), and guava, before topping it off with condensed milk, mochi balls, ice cream, and azuki beans. It’s also a good way to combat the warm Hawaiian weather.

#3 Spam Musubi

A post shared by Leslie Labao (@chef_lelly) on

Spam is a staple of the Hawaiian diet. You’ll see it all over the Hawaii food scene. One of the best ways the locals like to enjoy it is when it’s tied with nori to a bite size block of rice. Not only is it cheap and convenient, it’s super tasty too. Prepare to find yourself eating a few of these.

#4 Açai Bowls

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Açaí Verão Hawaii (@acaiveraohawaii) on


While this isn’t technically classic Hawaiian food, this bowl of fruity goodness is served on every menu that it almost should be. It’s a blend of fresh açai berries topped with granola, fruits like banana, berries, and pineapple, before it’s drizzled over with local honey. It’s also a great excuse to have an ice-cream like dish for breakfast, without the guilt.

#5 Saimin

Saimin is a hearty egg-noodle soup dish that represents a mix of the island’s Chinese Japanese and Filipino heritage. Think a bowl of ramen with a broth made from a light dashi stock, egg noodles slightly softer in texture than what’s typically used for ramen, and garnishes like green shallots, char siu pork, spam, egg and Asian greens.

#6 Hawaiian Plate

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Trevor Havens (@genkraid) on


Every traditional Hawaiian restaurant has their own version of a Hawaiian plate but no matter the flavours it always comes with a scoop of rice, kalua pork that has been slow-cooked in an underground oven, laulau (a steamed parcel of pork or chicken in taro leaves), lomi lomi salmon (a fresh tomato and salmon salad), poi (pounded taro), and haupia (coconut cream pudding) for dessert.

#7 Loco Moco

A post shared by chris oh (@chefchrisoh) on

This is a plate of another kind. It’s protein heavy and complete gluttony. It comes with rice, hamburger patties, fried eggs, rich brown gravy, and macaroni salad. Some locals would say it’s a good dish to cure a hangover, mainly because it’ll put you right back to sleep after you’re done with it.

#8 Manapua

Image: Sun Brockie / Flickr

These pillowy soft buns come either steamed or baked and filled with char siu, chicken, sweet beans – anything you can think of. Get them as a single bun or order them by the dozen. These are pretty addictive suckers.

#9 Malasadas

A post shared by 💕Becca💕 (@missheartbeats) on

If you’re looking for something healthy, turn the other way now. Malasadas are everything but good for you, but they’re worth every calorie. Coated in sugar, the deep-fried balls of doughy bread are best enjoyed fresh out of the deep-fryer for breakfast, as a snack, or dessert.

#10 Mixed Plate

If you’re the indecisive type or just want to try a little bit of everything then the mixed plate is your answer. A typical plate comes with rice, macaroni salad, and a selection of meats be it teriyaki beef, crumbed chicken, kalbi beef short ribs, or white fish.

Next check out our guide to three days in Hawaii.

(Lead image: Shave ice from Matsumoto Shave Ice / Instagram)