From fresh seafood to pig roasts, discover the amazing must-try foods when you visit the islands.
By Raymund Macaalay
In my personal opinion Hawaii has a very diverse cuisine because its influences came from many continents, from Asia like Philippines, Korea, Japanese and Chinese; America and Europe as well as the Island nations. You can see this mix of culture when you participate in a Luau feast where noodles, rice, taro, stews, roast, deep fried meats and baked desserts are served in one long table. If you are in one of those continents mentioned above you will definitely find a connection to some of the local dishes you grew with.
This list can be huge but we will be limiting it to 12 items and these, in my personal opinion, sum up the diversity of the cuisine.
Shaved ice is an artificial sweet, but like any sugary drinks it’s bad for you but good for your palate. However, once in a while it won’t hurt having this shaved ice especially when you know you will be burning all that sugar when you climb the Diamond head crater.
Chicken Long Rice
I guess if you are from Asia you may recognize this as looking like something different that you are familiar with. It’s like a soup but it’s not, it’s like stir fried noodles, but it’s not as well. This dish is more like a combination of the two. Overcooked glass noodles are flavoured with chicken and vegetables for a delicious dish.
This specialty sounds healthy because it is. The bowl is loaded with super fruits like blueberries, acai berries and goji berries to name some. Best served cold and eaten for breakfast, it is a really good way to start a hot day on an island like Hawaii.
I saw Anthony Bourdain eating this on TV so I was intrigued to try it on my own, well he is right, it’s weird in a right kind of way. The mixture of flavours is really unique, imagine how a taro bacon bun, with hot dogs in a mango sauce with passion fruit mustard would taste together, well you this is it, the Hula dog.
No it’s not that finger icon in Facebook, this is the Hawaiian style sashimi or ceviche where seafood like salmon or tuna is marinated in shoyu and served with chillies, scallion, nuts and sometimes tomatoes.
Hawaiian Hosts are delicious. And why not? They are made up of chocolate and macadamia nuts, need I say more?
A staple food in Hawaii, this is a food made from the ground taro plant. For a different experience, try dipping meats into rather than eating it on its own.
Spam’s biggest market is Hawaii and it’s in everything from noodles to plate lunches and in something like this. Spam musubi is basically grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori dried seaweed, it’s everywhere.
You can easily make this at home but nothing gets is authentic than getting it at any Farmers market or Food Truck in Hawaii. It is a good burger patty served on top of rice with lots of gravy and a fried egg or two, sometimes there’s even a bonus of macaroni salad on the side.
It’s a sin not to have some of this when you’re in Hawaii. The Kalua Pig is one of their specialties and cooking it is quite special. Imagine putting hot lava stones underground with a whole pig and then covering it with banana leaves then dirt and five hours later you have the most tender, succulent, smoky, earthy pork cooked in the most exotic way.
Shutterstock: Robert Crow
Who doesn’t love donuts? Well this is the island version influenced by the Portuguese. Like traditional donuts, its deep fried then rolled in sugar, then filled with guava jam and sometimes melted chocolate and cream. Yum!
This is an island and they have lots of fresh seafood, so if you live in a land-locked country or if seafood is expensive usually then indulge when you’re in Hawaii. I can still imagine myself when I was there, I binge ate some abalones, crabs, prawns and lobsters, just to name a few.