As the most isolated population center on earth, the Hawaiian Islands are unique everything from our culture and weather to the food we eat. While a few of these iconic foods and drinks find their origins in other countries, or have made their way to the mainland, these 14 dishes are uniquely Hawaiian.
1. Loco Moco
The loco moco: A beef patty nestled into a bed of rice with a fried over-easy egg balanced on top, with a smothering of brown gravy bringing everything together.
Malasadas – Portuguese donuts without a hole - are wildly popular in Hawaii, and nowhere does them better than Leonard’s Bakery. A crispy golden brown exterior gives way to a soft and chewy inside in flavors like cinnamon sugar – some malasadas are even filled with custard or haupia, and there is a malasada flavor of the month.
3. Spam Musubi
More Spam is sold in Hawaii than the rest of America, so it makes since that the islands have combined Spam and sushi to create spam musubi.
4. Hawaiian Plate Lunches
A plate lunch is a specific meal consisting of two scoops of rice, an entrée, macaroni salad, and sometimes a generous helping of gravy.
5. Shave Ice
Ah, Shave Ice: the quintessential Hawaiian treat, the perfect snack for a quick sugar rush after a day spent in the ocean. Is there really any better dessert on a hot Hawaiian afternoon? We sure don’t think so.
6. Kalua Pork
This traditional dish is usually cooked in an underground oven, called a Imu, and served at most Hawaiian luaus.
7. Acai Bowls
There is nothing quite like an acai bowl full of acai berries, fresh fruit, granola or oatmeal and a drizzle of honey, after a sunrise hike. This is such a healthy and satisfying breakfast, and I’m still trying to perfect the sweet meal at home.
Manapua translates to “delicious pork thing” in Hawaiian, and that is exactly what it is: diced pork filling inside a steamed white bun. You can substitute other meats, or even bean paste if you would like.
9. Ice Cream Mochi
Combine Japanese sticky rice and an ice cream filling and you’ve got ice cream mochi. I was introduced to mochi shortly after moving to Hawaii, and fell in love. Yes, you can find mochi in other states, but everyone knows that the best mochi comes from Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert.
Also known as passion orange guava, POG is a wonderful concoction of fruit “juice” adored by residents of Hawaii.
Poke, a raw fish salad, usually consists of cubed ahi (yellowfin tuna) marinated with sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, limu seaweed and chili powder. The delicious dish is currently taking over the mainland, but Hawaii obviously still does it best.
12. Kona Coffee
Grown exclusively in the Kona district of Hawaii Island, Kona Coffee is an iconic Hawaii drink. Trust us, you’ll never want to drink regular coffee again after one sip of 100 percent Kona coffee.
13. Haupia Pie
Haupia, a traditional coconut milk based Hawaiian dessert, is in the pudding family, and most often used to create a delicious chocolate haupia pie!
It’s hard to think about Hawaiian food without taking about pineapple. Hawaii is famous for its pineapple production, though the sweet fruit was not introduced to the islands until the 1500s.
What are some other iconic Hawaiian dishes? Share your favorites in the comments on out Only In Hawaii Facebook page!