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Traveling the Islands: 10 Hawaiian Dishes You Must Try

Published: 7th December 2017 12:38


Hawaii is one of the best states in America to vacation in. 

Hawaii is one of the best states in America to vacation in. The weather is almost always beautiful, the culture is exotic, and there’s always plenty to do on each of the different islands. When staying in Hawaii, you can book a hotel, stay at a resort, or be one with the locals by looking for houses for rent in Hawaii.


Other than relaxing on the beach and surfing the waves, one of the best things about Hawaii is the food. Eat your way through Hawaii by trying these 10 excellent Hawaiian dishes.

Get a Little Bit of Everything with the Hawaiian Plate

Eat like the locals, and get a true appreciation for Hawaiian cuisine by eating a Hawaiian Plate at lunch. This go-to meal is both cheap and filling, and usually found at drive-in restaurants, roadside food stalls and small hole-in-the-wall restaurants that locals love to visit.


The dish dates back to the 1880s, where it was a popular lunch for hungry employees working at pineapple and sugar plantations. The only thing that stays consistent in a Hawaiian Plate is the rice, and the mayonnaise-based macaroni salad. The other sides include a wide variety of different types of meat, from pork to beef. Some popular side dishes that are usually served in a Hawaiian Plate include:


·       Pipikaula, which is dried beef

·       Lomi, which is diced salmon marinated in some type of sauce

·       Poi, which is cooked taro

·       Laulau, which is pork or chicken wrapped in ti leaves

·       Kalua, which is shredded pork


The vast varieties found in a Hawaiian Plate will give you a good idea of what the locals eat. If you’re renting a house during your stay, ask the neighbors where they get their favourite Hawaiian Plates from.

Slurp Down Some Saimin

Another traditional local food is known as saimin. It’s basically a Chinese egg-noodle soup that was brought to the islands years ago. The dish has evolved over time, and a lot of Hawaiians absolutely adore these noodles. In fact, you can even order saimin at the Aloha Stadium. There are also numerous restaurants that specifically make saimin only. Mom-and-pop restaurants and small hole-in-the-wall ones will offer the most authentic taste.


Saimin features thin noodles, similar to Chinese chow mein ones, in a Japanese dashi broth. The noodles are then topped with kamaboko, kimchi, Portuguese sausage, spam and green onions. It’s a lot of cultures mixed together to become one iconic dish.

Relax and Enjoy the Refreshing Taste of Some Poke

If you really want to immerse yourself in the Hawaiian surfing culture, then you’ll want to grab a bowl of poke. The dish basically consists of cubed, raw fish mixed with a bunch of other fresh seafood. It can be found in small mom-and-pop stores and even in high-end restaurants.


Poke is essentially a ceviche. It usually features ahi tuna or octopus mixed with various seasonings. The seafood is usually seasoned with inamona, which is roasted kukui nuts that have been mixed together with salt, and limu kohu, which is a type of seaweed. Different restaurants will add their own unique twist to the dish. Some add onions, while others add soy sauce, tofu and even ginger.


There’s nothing better than grabbing a bowl of poke to go. Eat the poke while relaxing on the beach. It’s an amazing experience that will make you feel like you’re one with the island.

Treat Yourself to Some Delicious Manapua

If you’re looking for a snack or even a dessert, you’ll want to try manapua. You can find it at food trucks, food stalls, restaurants, and more. It’s a favorite among locals. The best way to describe manapua is that it is a steamed bun. Some stalls and food trucks have buns that are doughier whereas others pride themselves on having light and fluffy ones. Regardless of what you choose, they’re all great.


The filling inside these buns will vary from place to place. Some use Chinese sausages whereas others are solely filled with minced pork. Try out all of the different variations to figure out what suits your taste buds the most.

Finish Off Your Meals with Malasadas

While we’re on the topic of dessert, it’s also a good time to bring up malasadas. These were brought over by the Portuguese during the plantation time periods; however, they have quickly become Hawaiian favorite fried treats. They’re especially delicious when they’re piping hot, and definitely something you want to try before you leave Hawaii.


Malasada is essentially a yeast-leavened doughnut that is heavy on eggs and butter. They are fried to a beautiful golden brown and then usually rolled in sugar although some malasadas come without the sugar. You’ll find malasadas filled with a variety of fillings on the islands. Popular fillings include custard and coconut although many bakeries and restaurants are coming up with newer innovations that will surely blow your mind.


There are many local treats and dishes that you definitely should try when you’re in Hawaii. The food there is simply amazing, and once you’ve had a bite, you’ll definitely crave more. When planning a vacation to Hawaii, it’s a good idea to check out where all of the locals go to eat, and which restaurants have the highest rating. Make reservations ahead of time to make sure that you’ll get a spot. It’s also a good idea to find rental houses that are close to the action. This will make your trip a lot more enjoyable.


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