About Hawaiian food
Five unique culinary types may be found in Hawaiian food, reflecting the islands’ long history of colonization and immigration.
Polynesian voyagers introduced plants and animals to the Hawaiian Islands (300 AD-1778). Poi was made from poi (taro) grown in the region. Native Hawaiians also grew sugarcane and yams and taro and cooked meat and fish in earth ovens.
When Europeans and Americans first arrived in 1778, they brought their food and constructed extensive sugarcane plantations, later joined by missionaries and whalers. Whaling pioneers introduced salted fish, which later became lomilomi salmon, to New England during the missionary period.
Between 1850 and 1930, as the number of pineapple and sugarcane farms increased, so did the need for laborers, resulting in the arrival of several ethnic groups to the islands. Hawaii was influenced by immigrants who brought food from China, Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Portugal.
Native, indigenous, European, and American meals were merged with new ethnic dishes, such as Chinese char siu bao (manapa), Puerto Rican pasteles (pastel), Portuguese sweet bread (malasada), and Japanese bento.
Due to this mingling of foods, Hawaii developed a distinct “local food” style that gave rise to delicacies like the plate lunch, Spam musubi, and the loco moco.
Several well-known local eateries began serving “Hawaiian Food” shortly after World War II. Hawaiian food has been called “Hawaii Regional Food” by chefs since 1992.
This cooking style, which incorporates locally sourced ingredients to create fusion dishes, was further developed by chefs in Hawaii during the state’s history.
History of Hawaiian food
Aside from a few ferns (hpu’u ‘i’i, which are eaten raw) and fruits found at higher altitudes, the Hawaiian Islands had few edible plants when the first Polynesian mariners landed there between 300 and 500 AD.
There are varying estimates among botanists and archaeologists as to the number of canoe plants that the Polynesians brought to the islands, ranging from 27 to over 30.
Taro was the most significant one. They’ve been eating taro for generations, and the poi they make from it is still a favorite.
The Polynesians also imported sweet potatoes. Polynesian interaction with the New World is the source of these artifacts.
Breadfruit was brought to Polynesia by the Marquesans, while the Tahitians delivered the baking banana. Coconuts, candlenuts (called in Hawaiian as kukui nuts), and sugarcane were also imported by Polynesian immigrants.
Fish, shellfish, and limu were abundant in the new country. Birds without wings were easy prey, and nests were teeming with eggs waiting to be plucked off the earth.
Ancient Polynesians traveled the Pacific with pigs, chickens, and dogs in their cargo since most Pacific islands lacked meat animals other than bats and lizards.
Pigs were reared and slaughtered for religious purposes, with the flesh presented on altars and eaten by both priests and the general public.
More than 130 different species of shellfish and 230 distinct varieties of sweet potatoes may have been part of the early Hawaiian diet. Some land and marine bird species have been extinct for centuries.
Inamona, a relish consisting of roasted, mashed kukui nutmeats, sea salt, and occasionally seaweeds, was typical to meals in ancient Hawaii.
A traditional feast known as ‘aha’aina was held on certain occasions. When a lady was about to give birth to her first child, her husband would begin rearing a pig for the ‘Aha’aina Mawaewae feast, commemorating the kid’s birth.
The feast also needed mullet, shrimp, crab, seaweed, and taro leaves, in addition to the pig.
The Hawaiian terms ‘aha’aina and p’ina were replaced by the current term l’au in 1856. To distinguish it from other forms of the word “l’au,” the word “l’au” is derived from the Hawaiian word for “aha’aina,” which means “a gathering of people” in Hawaiian.
To save blood, pigs and dogs were strangled, or their noses were stifled before cooking. Flattening out the eviscerated animal and broiling it over hot coals or sprinkling it on sticks was the method of preparing meat.
Large pieces of meat, including chickens, pigs, and dogs, would be grilled in earth ovens or spitted over the fire for ceremonial feasts.
The klua technique of preparing food in an imu, a Hawaiian earth oven, combines roasting and steaming. A pit is excavated into the soil and lined with volcanic rocks and other materials that do not split when heated to high temperatures, such as granite.
Foods wrapped in leaves of ti, ginger, or banana are placed in the pit, covered with wet leaves, matting, and a layer of soil, and the embers are removed. Steam may be generated by adding water via a bamboo tube.
Meals for many days might be prepared in a single pot, taken out, and consumed as necessary, and then the lid reapplied to keep the remaining food warm.
In addition to fish, the imu was used to prepare various vegetables and other fruits. Before entering the imu, the saltwater eel was salted and dried.
Hot rocks were introduced into the abdomen cavities of chickens, pigs, and dogs before being placed in the imu.
Males did the cooking, and women’s food was prepared in a separate imu; men and women ate their meals separately after that. On certain occasions, the old tradition of cooking with an imu is practiced.
In 1778, James Cook landed on Niihau, the largest of the South Pacific’s uninhabited islands. He brought many animals and seeds for melon, pumpkin, and onion cultivation.
Longhorn cattle from California were transported to the islands by Captain George Vancouver in 1793 and gifted to King Kamehameha I.
The monarch recruited an American called John Parker to catch and domesticate cattle for lack of natural predators, which quickly grew out of control. The beef was first introduced to Hawaiian food when many cattle were killed.
Don Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish botanist, and adviser to King Kamehameha I, first planted pineapple seeds in Honolulu in 1813.
As early as 1792, Captain Vancouver brought grape plants to the Hawaiian Islands, but in 1815, Marin planted the now-extinct Mission grape type.
Marin attempted to establish the first coffee crop in 1817 and made the first beer in 1812, but both failed. To the Hawaiians, Marin was known as “Manini.” He experimented with growing oranges, limes, beans, potatoes, cabbages, peaches, melons, maize, and lettuce.
A large portion of Hawaii’s land was taken over and farmed by American immigrants by the late 19th century, and pineapple and sugarcane became Hawaii’s most significant export.
To keep up with the growing demand for labor on the Big Five plantations, plantation owners turned to immigrants from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Portugal. Farms and grocery stores were built to cater to the needs of the many ethnic groups in the workplace.
Chinese immigrants cooked the earliest stir fry, sweet and sour, and dim sum meals on the islands, who substituted poi with rice and added their herbs and spices. Chinese rice farmers brought in well-known Asian fish types to populate their irrigation ditches and streams.
The influx of Korean immigrants to Hawaii brought with them kimchi and how to cook marinated meats over open fires on barbecue pits.
Bibimbab (mixed rice with seasoned veggies) and Korean favorites like namul, sweet and spicy gochujang, and bulgogi sauce have all made their way to Hawaii’s culinary landscape, as have the boneless bulgogi and the boneless galbi.
Abolishing their traditional beehive ovens, the Portuguese brought their pork, tomatoes, and chili peppers to Hawaii when they arrived from the Azores in the late nineteenth century.
They also brought their sweetbreads and meats like PO dose and malasada. To make Lomi and salmon, the whalers hauled in salted fish.
The Japanese imported bento and sashimi and tofu and soy sauce, even though many of their vegetable seeds did not thrive in the islands’ environment.
Tempura and noodle soups were popular in Hawaii due to the absence of ovens in the houses of Japanese immigrants, who cooked by frying, steaming, broiling, and simmering.
At this point, the Japanese had overtaken other ethnic groups in terms of population; in fact, rice had become the third-largest crop in the islands by the early 20th century.
1900 saw the arrival of Puerto Rican immigrants to Hawaii, who brought with them fiery, Spanish-seasoned thick soups, casseroles, pasteles, and meat turnovers to the island’s food.
After arriving in Hawaii in 1909, Filipinos brought with their peas and beans, adobo vinegar and garlic dishes, and a preference for cooking meals on the stovetop rather than in the oven and sweet potatoes, which became a mainstay with rice.
In 1919, the Samoans came, erecting their earth ovens above ground rather than below like the imu and making poi from fruit rather than taro.
Immigrants from Southeast Asia came to the United States after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, bringing ingredients like lemongrass, fish sauce, and galangal, which are common in Thai and Vietnamese food.
Statehood – territorial era
Peter Fernandez, a Portuguese immigrant to Honolulu in 1849, built the city’s first restaurant. Leon Dejean’s “Parisian Restaurant” was located at the junction of Fort Street and Hotel Street behind the Bishop & Co. bank, and the facility was known as “the dining house.”
One of the most luxurious hotels in the Pacific, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, was established in Honolulu in 1872. Menu items included mullet, spring lamb, chicken with tomatoes, and cabinet pudding at the Royal Hawaiian Dining Room in 1874, considered one of the greatest restaurants in Europe.
James Dole, known as the “Pineapple King,” planted pineapples on the island of Oahu in 1901, and the Hawaiian pineapple industry was founded. Dole bought Lanai Island in 1922 and began producing pineapples on a considerable scale there.
Hawaiian Pineapple Company was the world’s biggest pineapple producer by 1950. ‘ Hawaii’s Territorial Governor George R.
Carter argued for more local agricultural output in 1905, stating that “In the past, Hawaii was a major supplier of wheat, potatoes, and other crops to California. The state of California is already producing its own and exporting some of its excess to the United States.”
There were editorials in the newspapers asking why local guavas were let to decay on the ground while agribusiness was growing non-native pineapple in Hawaii. A century later, the regional food movement started addressing these issues by urging the food sector to “farm local,” “buy local,” and “eat local.”
Squash, tomatoes, chilli peppers, and lettuce are some of the other crops developed in Hawaii due to cheaper pineapples grown in Southeast Asia since the 1970s.
Hawaiian-grown foods were avoided by chefs who arrived in Hawaii between 1978 and 1988, preferring to import things from the United States mainland or as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.
In the 1950s, Japanese-American baker Robert Taira invented Hawaiian sweet Portuguese bread. Hawaiian bakeries and coffee shops started selling the bread, with manufacturing increasing to California and South Carolina, and Taira’s bread became a popular item. During the ’80s, King’s Hawaiian Bakery, Taira’s firm, generated $20 million in yearly revenue.
Typical Hawaiian food
The food and chefs who established and campaigned for a particular Hawaiian fusion style is called “Hawaiian regional food.” Ethnic culinary influences from throughout the world are incorporated into the food, including fish, meat, and tropical fruits.
Sam Choy, Philippe Padovani, Roger Dikon, Gary Strehl, Roy Yamaguchi, Amy Ferguson Ota, Jean-Marie Josselin, George Mavrothalassitis, Beverly Gannon, Peter Merriman, Mark Ellman, and Alan Wong established the food style.
It was a concerted effort to shift away from materials that had to be delivered great distances and recipes that were not well suited to Hawaii’s climate and environment.
They aimed to raise awareness of Hawaii’s food culture while also promoting locally produced foods in hotels and restaurants around Hawaii.
The organization’s purpose was to connect local farmers, fishers, and ranchers to the hotel and restaurant sector to create Hawaii’s regional food that reflected the community.
Instead of bland continental and international hotel fare based on imported ingredients and recipes from the mainland, they served meals made using locally sourced ingredients.
Janice Wald Henderson’s The New Food of Hawaii was published by this group of chefs in 1994. In addition, these chefs contributed to a charity cookbook.
20 Hawaiian dishes to try when visiting the islands
It’s always preferable to eat your way across Hawaii with a group of friends. Whether shared on social media or with a buddy who’s willing to try anything, local favorites are some of our favorite things to “like” on Facebook and Instagram.
1. Hawaiian Plate
You should do just one thing in Hawaii: grab a dish of Hawaiian food, whether it be at a restaurant, a lunch cart, or someone’s home.
Kalua pork, pork laulau, pipikaula, and Lomi salmon may be served with rice, poi, and kulolo or haupia pudding for dessert, as can kalua pig on top of the rice, pork or chicken laulau (wrapped in ti leaves), pipikaula (dried beef), and lomi fish.
Eat as much as you want. However, you want until you feel like a Kanak assault is imminent (want to go into a food coma).
Helena’s Hawaiian Food, a James Beard Award-winning establishment, has been serving up authentic Hawaiian food since 1946. At Honolulu’s 1240 N. School Street, call (808) 845-8044.
2. All-Natural Shave Ice
The classic frozen dessert of Hawaii is now a part of the farm-to-table movement throughout the Islands. There has been an increase in the number of places that provide a bowl of finely shaved ice over which house-made, all-natural, locally-sourced syrups are lavishly drizzled.
A lot of the history of the cool cones may be found in this new incarnation of shave ice. Shave ice was carried to the sugar and pineapple plantations of Hawaii by Japanese immigrants hired to work there.
Fruit juice was poured over the ice while the plantation workers used their machetes to shred the enormous ice chunks delicately.
Oahu’s Aina Haina Shopping Center’s Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha shaves ice cups are made with natural syrups.
Strawberries and pineapple from Hawaii are featured at Uncle Clay Chang’s east Honolulu shave ice shop. Get a chocolate shave ice prepared using Waialua chocolate for a sweeter treat.
Their shave ice becomes even more delicious with Vanilla Ice Cream from Kamuela, Hawaii. Ice cream, azuki beans (Japanese red beans cooked with sugar and squeezed into a delicious paste), and mochi balls are some of the most popular shave ice toppings.
Visit One Aloha Shave Ice in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island, Ululani’s Shave Ice in Maui, and Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa, Kauai, for more naturally derived shave-ice establishments. Honolulu, Oahu, 820 W. Hind Dr., (808) 373-5111, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha.
A Chinese egg-noodle soup adapted for the Hawaiian Islands’ plantation period; saimin is one of the state’s most beloved indigenous dishes.
When it comes to flavor, you can taste the influence of Hawai’i history’s many immigrant groups, most notably thin Chinese-inspired noodles in dashi soup.
It wasn’t until later that kimchi, green onions, Portuguese sausage, and Spam were added to the mix that saimin was born as we know it today.
At athletic events at Aloha Stadium and McDonald’s around Hawaii, you may order it. One of Maui’s most popular saimin businesses is Star Noodle.
However, suppose you truly want to immerse yourself in a time warp of the past. In that case, you’ll need to visit a local mom-and-pop eatery, like Hamura’s on Kaua’i or Shiro’s Saimin Haven on Oahu, which has over 60 saimin varieties available.
(808) 667-5400 or visit starnoodle.com for more information about Star Noodle in Lahaina, Maui. Two of the best saimin restaurants in the state of Hawaii are Hamura Saimin Stand in Lihue (808) 245-3271 and Shiro’s Saimin Haven in Aiea (808) 488-8824.
4. The Coconut
This dish has everything you could ever desire in it. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and sour, made with Hawaiian lilikoi (passionfruit) sauce and local, seasonal fruits. You’ll want to take a picture of every rounded edge of this piece of beauty before savoring the creamy sorbet.
There is no need to be concerned with the dessert’s appearance since all of it may be eaten. Alan Wong’s culinary team has to undergo rigorous training to make the dessert seem lifelike, from sculpting the chocolate shells to scooping the sorbet.
Each night, the King Street restaurant serves 20 to 40 of Alan Wong’s specialty dessert, the Coconut. Chef Wong has even served the dish to the Obamas during their yearly Oahu trips.
When you consume this crowd-pleaser, you, too, will feel like a king or queen. 3rd floor of Alan Wong’s at 1857 S King St., Honolulu, Oahu, (808) 949-2526.
5. Bread Is Farm Chips
Taro Ko Farm’s taro, uala (sweet potato), and potato chips are real if the greatest foods are determined by how tough they are to get.
Only in the ancient village of Hanapp, on the island of Kauai, can you obtain these hand-made chips, which are kept in an old greenhouse.
You might miss it if you drive too quickly. Hours are straightforward: A brown cardboard box containing a bag costs $5 and is sold by the shop’s proprietor, Dale Nagamine.
You’re out of luck if the door is locked. You can’t get enough of the potato chips flavored with dried plums, thanks to four basic ingredients: garlic salt, soybean oil, and a powdered form of the dried plums, just like a sweet BBQ potato chip, but with a smoky sweetness to it. Contact Taro Ko Farm at (808) 335-5586 at 3940 Hanapepe Rd.
Hawaiians don’t simply eat poke; it’s their way of life. The chunky raw-fish salad is a staple at every gathering, whether a birthday party or a day at the beach with friends.
It’s impossible to get anything like it anywhere else in the world because of its incredible freshness and bewildering diversity of options.
It’s also a crossroads for foods, ranging from local taquerias to high-end eateries in Hawaii’s most affluent areas.
Ceviche is a ceviche without the acidity, so if you’ve never had poke before, you should make your taste buds ready for something stronger, more flavorful, and uniquely Hawaiian.
You may use whatever kind of seafood you choose, but the most popular are either ahi (salmon) or hee (octopus).
Inamona (roasted kukui nuts combined with salt) and limu kohu, a kind of seaweed that can only be found in Hawaii, are the only seasonings used in traditional Hawaiian poke.
There is now a seemingly endless array of dishes that use onions, tofu, shoyu (soy sauce), garlic, and ginger from the different civilizations that arrived in the Islands.
Ono Seafood’s excellent ahi poke in Honolulu is a fantastic place to start if you’re in town (but watch out for the limited parking lot). Hawaii Island’s Kona beaches are a great place to enjoy Da Poke Shack’s takeaway options.
Ono Seafood, Honolulu, Oahu, (808) 732-4806; Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island, (808) 329-7653; dapokeshack.com.
7. Luau Stew
There’s nothing quite like reminiscing about a delicious meal with someone special. You may associate this meal with tutu’s (grandmother’s) home cooking and first birthday celebrations in Hawaii, but if you’re a tourist to the island, here’s a chance to create one.
Luau stew is a classic Hawaiian comfort food that proves that little is more. Cooked until it’s melt-in-your-mouth soft, the Kalo (taro) leaves are seasoned with a splash of Hawaiian sea salt and served.
A luau stew cooked with beef brisket is the most popular, although you may find many variations around Hawaii. Depending on the recipe’s instructions, adding a little ginger, onion, coconut milk, pepper, or limu (seaweed) to this already tasty meal is possible.
Chef Mark Noguchi, for example, has brought his family’s luau stew dishes to every restaurant he has worked in. He serves it fresh every day in Honolulu at the Mission Houses Museum with either pork shoulder or uala.
One of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets is Mission Houses Cafe. It’s located at 553 S. King Street in Honolulu, and the phone number is (808) 531-0481.
Since this article’s publication, Mission Houses Cafe has closed its doors.
8. Strawberry Mochi
Gooey, cheesy delight in every bite. The strawberry mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo on Hawaii Island is a perennial favorite.
The small, family-run bakery is well-known for its daifuku (sweet mochi cake loaded with strawberry filling), a warm, pillowy mochi cake stuffed with red bean paste and topped with a whole strawberry.
A knife and fork wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if you were to cut this mochi in two with a knife and fork; this is the mochi. Two Ladies Kitchen also creates some of the strangest mochi and daifuku in the world.
The fact that you can get mochi in flavors like lilikoi, chocolate, grape, purple sweet potato, and peanut butter is enough to make this place a must-see for mochi lovers. 274 Kilauea Ave., Hilo, Hawaii Island, (808) 961-4766 Two Ladies Kitchen
9. The Mix Plate at Rainbow Drive-In
You can’t go to Hawaii without indulging in a plate lunch at least once, even if you’re on a no-carb diet. Three varieties of meat, two scoops of rice, and one scoop of macaroni salad (barbecue beef, mahimahi, and boneless chicken).
Precisely what you get at Rainbow Drive-Mix In’s Plate is exactly what you’re looking for. The steak, fish, and poultry are all succulent and flavorful.
When plantation workers brought their bento-style lunches to work in the 1880s, it symbolized the melting pot of cultures in the Islands.
Locals’ favorite comfort food is now available in convenient take-home containers. There is a drive-in theater in Honolulu, Hawaii, called Rainbow Drive-In, located at 3308 Kanaina Avenue.
10. Cow Pig Bun Burgers
There’s just one burger that makes your mouth water the moment your aircraft lands, and that’s the one almost every restaurant offers.
There is no doubt in my mind that Cow Pig Bun’s Maui burgers are the greatest in the state of Hawaii. A devoted following of meat-eaters has formed since Roger Stettler, and Greg Shepherd founded the gastropub in 2014 (surprisingly in a tech park).
In addition to the house burger with focaccia bread and bacon-garlic aioli and gruyere cheese and caramelized onions and a balsamic glaze and the Bacon Jam burger with brioche, bourbon bacon jam, lettuce, and bourbon-glazed pickles, there are six other burgers to choose from, all of which are equally flavorful and delicious. Maui’s Cow Pig Bun is located at 535 Lipoa Pkwy. in Kihei, Maui, and can be reached at (808) 875-8010.
11. Coco Puffs
Any Honolulu resident will tell you how good Liliha Bakery’s coco puffs are since they are a well-known Hawaii cream puff pastry.
Choux pastry filled with creamy chocolate pudding and topped with buttery chantilly frosting is an irresistible treat for residents, and you’ll love it, too, as soon as you’ve had it. Why?
The coco puff stands out because of its icing when it comes to baked items. Chantilly icing is a riff on German chocolate cake frosting that removes nuts and coconut while increasing the amount of butter.
To eat only one is difficult. There are two Liliha Bakeries in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii: Liliha Bakery, 515 N. Kuakini St., (808) 531-1651; and Liliha Bakery, 580 N. Nimitz Hwy., (808) 537-2488;
12. Da Hawaiian Acai Bowl
The Diamond Head Health Cove Bar in Waikiki is the only location where you can have an acai bowl topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, honey, and paiai (hand-pounded taro).
When combined with paiai, these sweet tastes make for an excellent introduction to the Hawaiian staple if you’ve been reluctant to do so before. You’ll be enjoying paiai in no time.
3045 Monsarrat Ave., Honolulu, HI 96814; (808) 732-8744; diamondheadcove.com; Diamond Head Health Cove Bar.
Say hello to the croissant-malasada known as the Croissada. Hybrid desserts have been a hot trend throughout the nation for a few years now, and it was only a matter of time until Hawaii’s version of the Cronut arrived on our shores.
When it comes to combining the flavors of Malasadas and Croissants in one delicious pastry that’s both light and flaky, you’ll find the Croissada to be an excellent example of a successful concoction.
The first place to serve it in Waikiki was the Aloha Center Café at the Pacific Beach Hotel, which used Polynesian vanilla Bavarian cream in each of its Croissadas.
More recently, Honolulu bakery Let Them Eat Cupcakes in Chinatown in Honolulu has made a limited amount of its variation of the Grandona, which is a doughy treat.
Every Friday morning, a limited number of these enormous pastries are baked fresh and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Two of the best places to eat in Honolulu are the Alaha Center Cafe (2490 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Oahu) and Let Them Eat Cupcakes (335 S. Beretania St., Honolulu, Oahu).
Since this post was published, Let Them Eat Cupcakes has shut down.
The pastele, or “pa-tel-e” with a silent “s,” was introduced to Hawaii by the first wave of Puerto Rican immigrants who arrived in the early 20th century.
Errors in pronunciation are remnants of sugarcane plantation period workers’ best efforts to learn all of their unfamiliar languages, including Spanish. Fortunately, its tastes haven’t changed after more than a century.
As with tamales, Puerto Rican pastele substitutes shredded green bananas and plantains (also known as “yauta”) in place of masa con Leche (corn flour) (a corm that belongs to the same family as Kalo).
Paletas may be filled with everything from pork to chicken to shellfish to currants, and they’re all served on a bed of gandule rice, a full meal prepared with sofrito and pigeon peas, wrapped in banana leaves.
If you’re looking for labor-intensive food on Oahu, go no farther than The Pastele Shop and Island Pastele and Rib House in Kalihi or Wat Get Kitchen in Waipahu, where you’ll find a variety of pastels on offer. In Honolulu on Oahu, the Pastele Shop can be found at 2101 N. School St. (808) 847-6969.
15. Leoda’s Pies
On Maui, Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop is open for business. Photographer Rachel Olsson captured this image.
Make a pit stop at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop for lunch and dessert if you’re driving from Maalaea to Lahaina. You won’t regret it.
Some are salty, while others are sweet, and all are created in-house by the eatery. Aside from the Olowalu lime, pineapple, and macadamia nuts, the Olowalu lime is our favorite. Chicken pot pies, beef and potato pot pies, and vegetarian pot pies are all options.
For the journey, bring some of your favorites. This is a terrific late-night treat for the kids. 820 Olowalu Village Road, Honoapiilani Highway, Maui, 808-662-3600, leodas.com. Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop.
16. Honu Seafood and Pizza’s Ahi Bruschetta
The ahi bruschetta at Honu Seafood and Pizza in Lahaina, Hawaii, makes quite the buzz. However, with one of the original 12 pioneers of Hawai’i Regional Food, Mark Ellman, at the helm, why wouldn’t it?
We used a 20-year-old balsamic vinegar and ahi slices that were cut to the exact right size and set on top of a flaxseed toast to make this bruschetta one of the best you’ve ever had.
Honu Seafood and Pizza, 1295 Front St., Lahaina, Maui, (808) 667-9390, honumaui.com, is a seafood and pizza restaurant Lahaina.
17. Mac and Cheese Pancakes
Can’t decide what to eat for the day’s first meal? Mac and cheese pancakes, the perfect savory brunch meal, come together at a little café in Oahu’s breezy Manoa Valley, where Morning Glass Coffee & Café is located.
The pancakes are made with macaroni and cheese, and yes, that’s correct. A coating of melted cheese is placed over the two hotcakes, revealing the macaroni baked into the batter.
With the addition of crispy bacon and a liberal spray of maple syrup, this salty-sweet combination becomes something really special.
morningglasscoffee.com is the Morning Glass Coffee & Café, a coffee shop located at 2955 E. Manoa Road in Honolulu, Oahu.
18. Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie
Every island in the Hawaiian archipelago serves up haupia as a dessert staple. The coconut milk mixture has impacted a variety of other sweets, including those served at luaus (Hawaiian feasts) and Hawaiian food restaurants.
Ted’s Bakery in Haleiwa serves extremely delicious haupia. The chocolate haupia cream pie from the North Shore bakery is a local favorite.
This pie has a flaky crust, a layer of dark chocolate custard cream, and a substantial amount of whipped cream on top. Many people have made the trek to the North Shore of Long Island solely to have a slice because of it. One of the best bakeries in Hawaii, Ted’s Bakery, is located at 59-024 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa, Oahu.
Manapuas are perfect in any location—beach, workplace meeting, in front of the TV with that Netflix series you need to catch up on.
You can get a dozen or just a single bun to toss in your suitcase, but this is perhaps the most portable food in Hawaii. In the late 19th century, many Chinese immigrants came to the islands, and they brought with them their version of the Chinese bao, a white bun stuffed with char siu pork.
People still dispute whether or not “pork mountain” is an acronym for “wonderful pork pastry” and whether it’s better baked or steamed, decades later, depending on who you ask.
Libby Manapua Shop on Oahu and The Manapua Bakery on Maui both provide a wide selection of manapua, but if you’re looking for something a little more unique, go to a manapua take-out place.
In addition to char siu, ginger chicken, sweet potato, lup cheong, hot dogs, pizza, and shoyu chicken, there’s probably a manapua for anything as well.
If you’re in Honolulu, Hawaii, and you’re looking for a place to shop, go no farther than Libby Manapua Shop, located at 410 Kalihi Street in Honolulu.
20. Crazy Mucus
A true classic will never be surpassed. You may find it on the menus of any restaurant, from a hole-in-the-wall to a five-star establishment.
Burger patties and fried eggs are served on top of a bed of white rice, all doused in thick brown gravy. It’s usually eaten during breakfast, although it may be enjoyed at any time. “kanak attack” is pidgin slang, meaning eating so much that you need sleep after eating “loco moco,” a popular dish in the Philippines. To get the most out of your meal, begin with breaking the eggs and then savoring each.
The loco moco was invented at Café 100 in Hilo. The cafe, established in 1946, has 30 varieties of classic dishes on its menu. The original cost only $3.50 and is still a popular choice.
Loco moco has been recreated on Oahu with the braised short-rib loco moco at Moena Café in Hawaii Kai. Loco moco is a popular Hawaiian dish, but owners Nicole and Eric Chang wanted to take it to the next level, replacing the hamburger patty with a slow-braised short rib.
The demi-glace, which is created from scratch, binds the meal together. It’s the most popular and most recognizable item in this café. Restaurants: Cafe Hilo, 969 Kilauea Ave; Moena Café, 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, Oahu, (808) 888-7716.