Hawaii's Must-Try Foods
The beautiful islands of Hawaii are home to a thriving and varied food culture. A cultural melting pot of options, drawing greatly from traditional Polynesian influences. Let's go on a culinary adventure through Hawaii, highlighting the dishes that you really must sample while on the aloha islands!
Poke (pronounce poh-kay) is a traditional Hawaiian dish that has become a worldwide phenomenon. It's like sushi... without the "rolls". This tasty dish is made with cut raw fish that has been marinated in a variety of flavors including soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed, onions, and chili peppers. Poke is a must-try for seafood aficionados!
My favorite place to get poke is... drum-roll please... the grocery store. Many island grocery stores serve poke at their deli counters. Every restaurant poke dish I've tried doesn't compare (especially with the price-to-serving ratio). You will see locals buying their poke mainly from local chain grocery stores. Avoid Safeway if you can... high tourist prices on everything, and it's a mega corporation. Support local!
The plate lunch is a staple in Hawaii. You will find it being served in almost all local low-key restaurants. Plate lunches are loved by locals for its large portions and international influences. Typically, you have your choice of protein alongside alongside two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Proteins choices usually include kalua pig, teriyaki chicken, or teri beef... but more and more places are offering differing protein choices.
Try a Loco Moco if you want to splurge on an authentic Hawaiian dish. A hamburger patty and a fried egg sit on a bed of rice in this famous dish, which is then doused in brown gravy. It's the perfect combination of salty flavors and satisfying textures. Macaroni salad or potato salad is a common accompaniment to loco moco.
It's well knowledge that Hawaii has a soft spot for Spam, and one of the greatest ways to sample this local delicacy is in the form of Spam musubi. A piece of grilled Spam is placed on a mound of sticky rice, and the whole thing is wrapped in nori (seaweed) for a portable snack. It's popular for a reason. The flavor combination works well in this dish that exemplifies the blending of American and Japanese flavors.
You'll even find these in the 7/11's on the islands! 7/11 is BIG on the Hawaiian Islands and serves hot food.
Shave ice is adored by both locals and tourists alike as a refreshing treat in the warm Hawaiian climate. A variety of syrups (try tiger's blood!) are available, and some shops get REALLY fancy with it (natural home-made syrups). Condensed milk is delicious drizzled over shave ice (a "snowcap"). Azuki beans, mochi, and ice cream are common accompaniments. Shave ice is a delicious dessert that you absolutely must try.
Malasadas, which have their origins in Portugal, have become a popular dessert in Hawaii. These deep-fried pastries can be filled with everything from custard to haupia (coconut) to fruit jams. Malasadas are a lovely treat that will fulfill your sweet taste when they are warm and freshly baked.
This must-try dishes in Hawaii are a staple! They'll take you on a culinary experience you won't soon forget. Savor each delectable morsel while thinking about the paradise you're in. Best wishes, and happy eating!
P.S. If you found this article helpful, check out my art print store at www.soulofhawaii.com -- it would mean the world to me! ALOHA to all from this Kauai-based writer/artist.