Hawaiian cuisine is not only exceptional, it’s also extremely unique. These delectable local dishes will leave your taste buds singing. Whether you’re on an island-hopping adventure or just kicking back on Waikiki Beach, you’ll want to try some (if not all) of these Hawaiian staples.
SPAM Musubi is a popular Hawaiian treat, a block of rice topped with a slice of fried SPAM wrapped tight with a sheet of dried nori. Resembling sushi, it usually uses the Japanese spice furikake in the rice. SPAM is so popular, there’s even a festival dedicated to it – The Waikiki SPAM JAM® street festival. Found in convenience stores all over the state, this is a great snack and is even served at Hawaiian Burger Kings and McDonalds.
Found in cafés and food trucks, the loco moco is a delicious plate of white rice topped with a hamburger patty layered with a fried egg and brown gravy. Hawaii’s true comfort food, it truly satisfies the soul. On the Big Island, Café 100 – also known as the Home of the Loco Moco – has been serving it up since 1946.
Cooked in an “imu” or underground oven, this celebratory meat absorbs the flavors of the elements used in the pit, from mesquite or koa wood, banana leaves, and the surrounding soil, creating a uniquely Hawaiian staple. This pulled pork is truly one of a kind, and you’ll be able to find hearty portions typically served at a luau feast – extra delicious served as sliders!
Refreshing and rich in flavor, this salad consists of fresh and raw salted salmon diced and tossed with tomatoes and Maui sweet onions, spiced with chili peppers. Though seemingly simple, there is something magical about the way it’s made in Hawaii. Have it fresh on its home turf.
Huli Huli Chicken
A sweet basting of huli huli sauce creates a completely unique dish bursting with flavors, from soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. This teriyaki-esque chicken dish might be similar to other dishes, but it is totally its own concoction – and a must-eat when on the islands.
Pronounced “poh-kay,” this bowl is a mixture of raw, diced ahi tuna or salmon seasoned with salty soy sauce, tossed in with finely chopped seaweed, rice, cubed avocado, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds. Though not always prepared this way, the poke bowl in all its forms is something you’ll want to seek out when in Hawaii. Served up at delis, grocery stores, and handmade at food trucks, these fresh bowls are absolutely delicious.
An important part of any luau, poi is created simply by steaming or baking the root of a taro plant and pounding until smooth. It is then thinned with water and made into a mildly purple paste that is slightly sweet. The fresher the poi, the more delicate the taste. Poi is served in various consistencies, “one-finger,” “two-finger,” or “three-finger,” which refers to how many fingers are required to scoop it up. Try as many variations as you can and decide for yourself which one you like best – but you’ll probably love them all.
From casual food trucks to fine dining restaurants, the flavors in Hawaii will be the perfect pairing with the surrounding paradise that you’ll find on every island. Contact a travel agent to get started on your foodie escape to Hawaii.