Hawaii is often regarded as a cultural ‘melting pot’. With so many ethnicities in one area, you’re bound to find some unique foods. Here are our recommendations for some delicious local food you need to try while in the islands.
8 FOODS YOU MUST TRY IN HAWAII
1. Poke Bowl
Poke (Poh-Keh) is raw fish, and a poke bowl contains raw fish, rice, and usually some seasonings/sauce. This one in particular is a spicy ahi bowl, which is my favorite type of poke! If you don’t do spicy, get a regular shoyu (soy sauce) poke bowl. This is the perfect meal/snack after a long day at the beach or hiking. Our favorite is from a sushi restaurant listed below (take out is an option), but we also love the poke bowls from any of the Foodland grocery stores in the state. (You can also ask for samples!)
Where We Recommend:
Kuru Kuru Sushi
98-199 Kamehameha Hwy.
Aiea, HI 96701
You can’t come to Hawaii without trying poi! It’s essentially mushed up kalo (sort of sweet potato), and is that purple looking goop on the right of the picture below. It was a staple for ancient Hawaiians, and people today often mix it with sugar. I personally don’t like it (Jarden loves it!), but it’s a popular cultural food. You can get it in practically any ‘Hawaiian Plate’. (These Hawaiian Plates are at many restaurants here, and it’s definitely a must try if you want to eat like a local.)
Where We Recommend (for the Hawaiian Plate):
680 Ala Moana Blvd. #105
Honolulu, HI 96813
Think of Haupia as a sweet, coconut pudding. Shown below in the left container, it’s typically the dessert item in a ‘Hawaiian Plate’. Also, don’t worry, it doesn’t come with the dried squid shown on the right. (That’s just another personal favorite snack of mine!)
4. Acai Bowl
Although you find these in some parts of the US (ex: California), it’s one of the most popular snacks here in the islands. Acai is a sweet/tart fruit, blended with other fruit and juice and/or soy milk to create a smoothie. Traditionally topped off with granola, fruits, and honey, I like mine with almonds and coconut flakes! You can find these everywhere, even in sorbet format!
66-082 Kamehameha Hwy.
Haleiwa, HI 96712
5. Kalua Pig
This was included in the Hawaiian Plate above, but I needed to feature this in a segment of it’s own glory. Kalua pig is tender, slightly salty, and my favorite way to eat pork. Traditionally it’s cooked in an imu (underground fire pit). You can often get Kalua Pig and Cabbage (with rice) by itself at many local food establishments.
6. Shave Ice
Another perfect snack for after the beach! What makes shave ice in Hawaii better than snow cones I’ve tried in the mainland is the way the ice is shaved. Shave ice is soft and the ice melts in your mouth instantly, mixed with sugary syrup in every flavor imaginable. My favorite add-ons? Vanilla ice cream on the bottom and condensed milk on top!
7. Li Hing Mui
This is a sweet & salty powder, made from sugar, salt and rock plum seed. The powder can be bought separately as shown below, but it is often used as a topping for fruit (mango/pineapple), popcorn, or candy. (Li hing gummy bears!)
8. Spam Musubi
You might be sporting a disgusted face right now. Spam? Yes spam! Although many people regard spam as the low life of canned meat, it’s delicious paired with rice and seaweed. You can find this at any 7-11 on the island. Trust me, it’s delicious!
Is your mouth watering yet? Have you ever tried any of these foods?