Travel Guide

USA: 10 Native Meals to Strive in Hawaii

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Hawaii has a numerous ethnic historical past that presents foodies with an eclectic array of native delicacies. Other than taro, tropical fruits, coconuts, yams, and different vegetation initially introduced over by Polynesian voyagers, Hawaiian delicacies has been formed by immigrants, European and American missionaries and extra. We hear you salivating, so right here’s our checklist of 10 native meals to strive in Hawaii. Don’t overlook to depart your journey baggage within the care of a Honolulu baggage storage facility so you’ll be able to free your palms for consuming ‘til your coronary heart’s content material.


In its most conventional type, laulau is a straightforward concoction of pork and salted butterfish wrapped in taro (or luau) leaves and cooked in an underground scorching rock oven for hours. Lately, meat varies between pork, beef, or hen and is steamed on the range.

One notable place you’ll be able to strive laulau is named Folks’s Cafe in downtown Honolulu, which serves up conventional Hawaiian and Filipino meals. Their helpings of pork are beneficiant, wrapped in a very good quantity of taro leaves. It comes out tender and smoky with out an excessive amount of oil.


Poi is Hawaii’s conventional staple meals created from taro root, which is analogous to a yam or potato however with extra starch. The taro is baked or steamed after which mashed to create a thick paste. Water is then added to the combination to create a sticky, pudding-like consistency.

Poi could be eaten instantly whereas sweeter or left to evenly ferment for a bitter flavour harking back to plain yoghurt. The fermented model is usually served with salted fish or Lomi salmon as a savoury meal or used as an ingredient in breads and different bitter dishes.

Squid Luau

Squid luau is one other instance of trendy Hawaiian fusion meals, usually served at celebratory luaus (feasts) alongside a bunch of different delicacies. The dish is made with pureed child taro leaves, coconut milk, and slices of squid.

When ready, it seems inexperienced and easy (much like Indian palak paneer), and is loved for its delicate stability of candy, salty, and creamy flavours. Fashionable variations of this dish can embrace hen or different seafood rather than squid, or spinach substituted for taro leaves. These eager to strive can accomplish that at Folks’s Cafe in downtown Honolulu.

Hen Lengthy Rice

Initially Chinese language-inspired, hen lengthy rice has earned its place on the desk alongside extra conventional Hawaiian meals. It’s Hawaii’s model of hen noodle soup with much less soup and extra noodles, although nonetheless synonymous with consolation and feeling higher when beneath the climate. 

Hen lengthy rice is a concoction of clear mung bean or vermicelli noodles and inexperienced onions. It’s simmered in hen and ginger broth. With its clear, zingy style, it balances out the heavy and fatty flavours current in lots of native Hawaiian delicacies. Strive it for your self at Helena’s Hawaiian Meals in North King St, Honolulu.

Kalua Pig

Kalua pig is the hero dish of any Hawaiian feast and is labour-intensive to create within the conventional method. The pig is killed, dissected, seasoned, after which cooked in an underground oven (referred to as an imu) over many hours. The oven itself is painstaking to assemble, a Jenga-stack of wooden and river rocks that takes hours to warmth.

The pork is slow-roasted and turns into extremely tender; much like American pulled pork however with a pungent, wood-smoke flavour versus tangy. It’s served alongside a military of native Hawaiian delicacies and a giant pile of white rice. Many get pleasure from it within the presence of mates, ingesting, dancing and laughter.

Spam Musubi

Hawaii is thought for its reverence of Spam: tinned hunks of thriller lunch meat that turned common throughout WWII. Spam musubi is Hawaii’s tackle a Japanese handroll; take a sheet of crispy seaweed, fill it with a scoop of rice, high it with a teriyaki-marinated slice of Spam, and wrap all of it up.

The ensuing flavour is one which’s nearly criminally salty, evenly candy from the marinade, and aromatic from the rice. Due to its compact dimension (and the actual fact it’s usually wrapped in plastic), Spam musubi is loved on the go or whereas lazing on the seashore. Strive it (in case you dare) at Musubi Cafe Iyasume in Honolulu, or from any 7/11.

Loco Moco

For final greasy consolation meals, you’ll be able to’t go previous a loco moco. Its fundamental parts are a mattress of short-grain white rice, grilled hamburger patties, over-easy eggs, a heart-attack-inducing serving to of meaty brown gravy, and a budget styrofoam container it’s served in.

Loco moco is common all through Hawaii, and its repute has reached worldwide standing. Devour in a state of intense hangover, with a fork, spoon, or set of chopsticks from a joint like Papa Ole’s Kitchen in Hauula.

Shave Ice

Shave ice is a strange deal with that may cool you down in Hawaii’s intense warmth. The bottom is made up of (you guessed it) shaved ice and typically ice cream and could be topped with all method of syrups and native fruits, condensed milk, candy azuki beans, and extra. Shave ice is offered at snack outlets all through Hawaii; begin with Waiola Retailer in Honolulu.


Poke is the Hawaiian model of Japanese sashimi (uncooked fish), although served in bite-sized chunks versus delicate slices. There are such a lot of kinds of poke in Hawaii, from completely different sorts of fish (tuna being the most well-liked) to all method of marinades, like soy sauce and mayonnaise and Maui onions.

Poke has turn out to be synonymous with poke bowls, which have grown in reputation everywhere in the world. Bowls are assembled from a mattress of rice and one’s alternative of fish cubes; although trendy interpretations embrace different types of animal and soy protein, plus greens. Try Ahi Assassins in Honolulu, Kahuku Superette in Oahu, or construct your personal poke bowls at bars in supermarkets.

Hawaiian Plate

Lastly…if you wish to strive just a little of all the things, order a Hawaiian plate. Begin with barely mushy steamed rice and creamy macaroni salad (a make-or-break part), after which add on as many kinds of meat and sides as you see match. Fashionable selections embrace fried mahi-mahi fish, hamburger steaks, hen katsu, tripe stew, Lomi salmon, and haupia.

Like with Spam musubi, Hawaiian plates are higher loved in relaxed settings, like on the seashore. Alternatively, there are a great deal of hole-in-the-wall locations to get your fill of creamy, starchy meals. Begin with beloved native joints like Rainbow Drive-In close to Waikiki, or Freeway Inn at Kaka’ako.

We hope this checklist of native meals to strive in Hawaii has whet your urge for food!

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Vicky, Mr ESLT, Junior ESLT and Mini ESLT x


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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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