Famous Foods to Try in Hawaii

February 8, 2013 by

Eating & Restaurants, Local Recommendations, Uniquely Hawaii

Ahi poke, one of the famous food of Hawaii

Ahi poke, one of the famous food of Hawaii. Photo Credit: photoskate on Flickr.

There are many reasons to visit Hawaii: The beaches, the weather, the rain forests, the laidback lifestyle, all are aspects of the islands which continue to draw visitors in droves. For many, however, there is one reason above all which draws visitors back time and again, and one which locals will cite as their favorite reason for calling the islands home.

It’s the food.

Seeing as Hawaii’s population is comprised of a cultural melting pot with no single ethnic majority, the blending of tastes and cuisines has created a unique menu of famous foods for visitors to try in Hawaii. While not all may be listed as “fine-dining”, collectively these offerings comprise the culinary staples for which the Hawaiian Islands are often best known.

Discover the food, wine and nightlife in Hawaii.

Spam musubi

What? Spam? The first thing listed is Spam? Despite the negative connotation often associated with the canned product, Hawaii actually consumes more Spam per capita than any other state. So what’s the most common form of Spam consumption? That would be the ubiquitous and delectable Spam musubi, a sushi-like arrangement where a slab of spam is accompanied by a block of sticky white rice, nori seaweed, and a host of various seasonings. Found at any general store or gas station across the state, the Spam musubi is undoubtedly a famous food to try in Hawaii.

Haupia and Poi

Usually found at a luau, haupia and poi usually ranks as the favorite and least favorite flavors for the visitor’s palate. Soft and  gooey in its white creaminess, haupia is a coconut-flavored dessert usually served in squares resembling a type of white jello. Soft and sweet, it’s too easy to finish off four or five straight squares of the white stuff. On the other side of the flavor spectrum, poi is derived from the taro root and served as a purple, almost glue-like paste. An acquired taste that is popular among locals, most visitors tend to think it tastes like a mixture of cardboard and dirt. Regardless, if headed to a luau, be sure to at least sample these famous foods to try in Hawaii

Plate lunch

The culinary manifestation of plantation laborers all sharing food in the fields, today’s ‘plate lunch’ offerings usually consist of a main meat dish pulled from either Hawaiian (pork lau lau), Korean (kalbi ribs), Filipino (pork adobo), Japanese (chicken katsu) or even Puerto Rican or Portuguese cuisine, all served with white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. Offering many options for famous food to try in Hawaii, the ‘plate lunch’ is the de facto lunch time staple of the majority of the island’s working class residents.

Ahi Poke

Sure, the fresh mahi mahi, ono, and opah filets found in the fancy restaurants are tasty, but for a more wallet-friendly sampling of Hawaii’s fresh fish you needn’t look further than a bowl full of ahi poke. Usually found in the seafood section of any major grocery store, ahi (yellow fin tuna) poke is cubes of raw fish seasoned with a wide array of sauces and seasonings from teriyaki and wasabi to sea salt and limu (seaweed). Another local staple to accompany the plate lunch, a heaping bowl of ahi poke is another example of famous food to try on your next trip to Hawaii.

   -Kyle Ellison

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