explore hawaii, Usa

What to eat in Hawaii, Usa

Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts

Contemporary food in Hawaii, like the language and popular culture, is a medley of traditional Hawaiian, Asian, and Portuguese. Pacific “fusion” cuisine was largely invented in Hawaii. Seafood is, of course, fresh and tasty. Local beef comes from ranches on Maui and coffee is grown on the Big Island. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, bananas, guavas, and papaya, as well as fresh sugar cane, can be bought in most corner stores (although you may be surprised to learn that many of those fruits are now imported from distant locales such as The Philippines & Brazil).

One of the most common ways that local food is served is in the form of plate lunch, usually meat or fish with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. It’s always a good deal at any lunch wagon, mall, or outside food court.

Perhaps the best setting for tourists to enjoy traditional Hawaiian food is at a luau, a traditional Hawaiian feast. Tourists can find luaus at various locations in the Islands, including many of the major resort hotels. At a modern luau traditional Hawaiian favorites are served buffet style, and there is also Hawaiian music, hula, and other Polynesian entertainment.

Popular dishes are:

  • Lomi salmon, salted salmon hand-mixed (lomi-lomi means “to massage”) with tomatoes, onions, and pepper; like an island salsa
  • Kālua pig, pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed inside an imu (ground boiler); similar to pulled pork
  • Pipi kāula, Hawaiian style beef jerky
  • Poi, ground and boiled taro root paste
  • Laulau, pork & butterfish (black cod) wrapped in ti leaves then steamed
  • Lū‘au, taro leaves baked with coconut cream and usually octopus (this dish inspired the modern name of the Hawaiian feast)
  • Haupia, a gelatin-like dessert prepared from thickened coconut milk; famous for being a mild laxative
  • Ahi, yellowfin tuna, excellent as sashimi (Japanese style sliced raw fish) or as poke (chopped and seasoned raw fish).
  • Mahimahi, dolphin fish, served as a steak, sandwich, or in almost-raw thin strips.
  • Ono, a type of fish also known as wahoo. Not coincidentally, the name resembles the Hawaiian word for “delicious,” ʻono.
  • Shave ice, an island version of snow cones made from finely shaved ice, comes in lots of ʻono flavors. Order your shave ice with azuki beans and/or a scoop of ice cream.
  • Saimin, Hawaii’s version of noodle soup or ramen. Hawaii is also known for its high quality noodle houses which offer all the Japanese noodle staples (udon, ramen, soba, etc.).
  • Malasada, Fried bread rolled in plenty of sugar, often sold at special events. Portugese origin.
  • Manapua, local name for a popular type of Chinese dim-sum otherwise known as char siu bao. Cured sweet pork wrapped in soft white bread.
  • Spam musubi, an unorthodox variant of Japanese riceballs (musubi), composed of salted rice formed into a rectangular shape and topped with spam, wrapped in seaweed. Popular enough to be sold in every Hawaiian 7-11.
  • Chicken/pork adobo, Filipino dish widely offered and appreciated in Hawaii.
  • Loco moco, this local specialty consists of a hamburger patty on rice, topped with over easy egg and gravy. Excellent with Tabasco sauce. Can be eaten for breakfast or lunch.
  • Chicken katsu, fried chicken cutlet with savory sauce. Usually served with rice and mac salad.

The legal drinking and purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21. However Hawaii is one of the 26 states that allow underage consumption of alcohol for religious purposes, only if the minor is authorized.

Beer: there are a number of excellent local brewpubs in Hawaii. Mehana, Sam Choy’s, Honu, Waimea Brewing Company, Liz’s Pub, Keoki’s and Kona Brewing Company all brew beer in Hawaii or brew it on the mainland and ship it to the islands. The largest of the group is Kona Brewing, which has won several national awards and runs two brew pub restaurants in the islands (one in Kailua Kona, the other in Hawaii Kai on Oahu).