The Best Hawaiian Dishes and Where to Find Them
Hawaii, a paradise of pristine beaches and tropical landscapes, is also a culinary haven influenced by Native Hawaiian, Asian, and European cuisines. The islands offer a delicious array of unique dishes that are a testament to its rich cultural melting pot. Here’s a mouthwatering guide to the best Hawaiian dishes and the must-visit places to savor them.
- What it is: Raw, marinated fish (usually ahi tuna) diced and served cold. Varieties might include different toppings and sauces.
- Where to find: Ono Seafood in Honolulu offers some of the freshest poke with an assortment of flavors to choose from.
2. Loco Moco
- What it is: A warm bowl of rice topped with a hamburger patty, a sunny-side-up egg, and drenched in brown gravy.
- Where to find: Cafe 100 in Hilo claims to be the birthplace of this hearty dish, making it a must-visit.
3. Kalua Pig
- What it is: Slow-roasted pork cooked in an underground oven called an “imu.”
- Where to find: Helena’s Hawaiian Food in Honolulu has won awards for their exceptional Kalua Pig.
- What it is: A coconut milk-based dessert, firm in texture and often found in luau feasts.
- Where to find: Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu serves delicious Haupia-filled malasadas (Portuguese donuts) you can’t miss.
- What it is: A Hawaiian staple, poi is made from the fermented root of the taro plant, pounded and mixed with water.
- Where to find: Highway Inn in Waipahu offers traditional Hawaiian cuisine with some of the best poi on the island.
6. Lau Lau
- What it is: Pork, fish, and taro leaves wrapped in ti leaves and steamed to perfection.
- Where to find: Young’s Fish Market in Honolulu serves lau lau that keeps both locals and tourists coming back.
7. Spam Musubi
- What it is: A sushi-style snack with a slice of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori.
- Where to find: Iyasume Musubi in Honolulu is a popular spot for various flavorful musubis, including the beloved Spam version.
- What it is: Portuguese donuts without a hole, fried and coated with sugar.
- Where to find: Tex Drive-In in Honokaa is famous for their fluffy and sweet malasadas.
9. Huli Huli Chicken
- What it is: Grilled chicken, marinated in a sweet soy-sauce based sauce and turned (huli means “turn” in Hawaiian) on a spit.
- Where to find: Head to Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken in Kaneohe for an authentic taste of this savory dish.
10. Shave Ice
- What it is: Finely shaved ice topped with a variety of sweet syrups.
- Where to find: Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa is arguably the most iconic shave ice spot in Hawaii.
Exploring Hawaiian cuisine is as much a journey through its history and culture as it is a feast for your taste buds. Each dish tells a story of the people, the traditions, and the land. So, while you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hawaii, let your palate embark on its own delightful adventure. Bon Appétit or, as Hawaiians say, ʻOno!