Whether you have lived in Hawaii your entire life, have just moved to the islands’ or are planning a once in a lifetime Hawaiian vacation, there are certain foods everyone who has ever stepped on Hawaiian soil needs to consume. From sweet treats and unique pastries to savory dishes and popular snacks, here are 15 mouthwatering foods everyone who visits Hawaii needs to try at least once.
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.
2. 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.
A traditional Hawaiian dish, Poi is made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until the ideal smooth consistency is met.
This wildly=popular noodle soup dish is inspired by Japanese ramen, Filipino pancit, and Chinese mein. It was developed by immigrants during Hawaii's plantation era, and has become a staple of Hawaiian cuisine ever since.
6. Li Hing Margaritas
Mai tais get all the credit as the quintessential Hawaiian treat, but personally, I am partial to a good li hing margarita instead.
7. Spam Musubi
More Spam is sold in Hawaii than the rest of America, so it makes sense that the islands have combined Spam and sushi to create spam musubi.
8. 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.
9. 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? Be sure to get it snowcap-style, with sweetened condensed milk on top.
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.
11. 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.
12. Mac Salad
Though the slightly tangy and slightly sweet Hawaiian macaroni salad is a critical part of any plate lunch, it is deserving of its own entry.
13. Kalua Pork
This traditional dish is usually cooked in an underground oven, called a Imu, and served at most Hawaiian luaus and traditional eateries.
14. Fresh Pineapple
It’s hard to think about Hawaiian food without talking about pineapple. Hawaii is famous for its pineapple production, though the sweet fruit was not introduced to the islands until the 1500s.
15. McDonald's Taro + Haupia Pies
On the mainland, you’ve got McDonald’s apple pies, but in Hawaii, they come in taro and hapuia varieties, and are absolutely to die-for.