Whether you’re headed to Hawaii for a week-long vacation or you’ve lived in the islands for years, there are certain Hawaiian dishes you’ve probably fallen in love with, and others that are still a little foreign. From poke and pork wrapped in taro leaf to shave ice and malasadas, here are 14 iconic Hawaiian dishes you have to add to your Hawaii food bucket list.
1. Kalua Pork
This traditional dish is usually cooked in an underground oven, called a Imu, and served at most Hawaiian luaus.
2. 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.
3. Shave Ice
Shave Ice is the quintessential Hawaiian treat, and the perfect snack for a quick sugar rush after a day spent in the ocean.
4. 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.
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.
Malasadas – Portuguese donuts without a hole - are wildly popular in Hawaii, and nowhere does them better than Leonard’s Bakery.
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 or morning on the water.
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. Yes, you can find mochi in other states, but everyone knows that the best mochi comes from Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Lau Lau
This traditional Hawaiian dish was once prepared as simple pork wrapped in taro leaf, but in modern times, the dish can consist of pork, beef or chicken.
13. 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.
A traditional Hawaiian dish, Poi is made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until the ideal smooth consistency is met.