When I talk to tourists who have just been to the islands, their reviews are usually dominated by their newfound love for Hawaiian island food. I love hearing their reviews of poke (island fish) and laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaf.) There’s a good chance that they went to a Hawaiian Luau and visited local restaurants that offer these dishes. Every visitor I have talked to fell in love with the local food. When I visit back home, I make sure to hit up a few of my favorite restaurants to get my fill of my favorite Hawaiian food. Sometimes I wish I could take all the food back with me! Here are my top five must try foods while you are in Hawaii.
Must Try Foods in Hawaii #1: Poke!
I had to put an exclamation point to go with “poke” because it is just that ‘ono (yummy)! Poke is my favorite thing to eat. Poke is diced raw fish served as a main dish with rice on the side. It is marinated in unique sauces that give it the rich flavor that everyone loves. Poke dishes rarely come with vegetables on the side. Poke is growing in popularity on the West Coast of the mainland, and I have tried it. It’s very different on the mainland and I haven’t tried one yet that I consider as authentic poke. If you want real poke, get it in the islands. My best recommendation is the Foodland poke bar. Foodland is a local grocery chain that is known for their poke.
Must Try Foods in Hawaii #2: Poi donuts
Poi is a ground up liquid form of taro, a staple in Hawaiian culture. It is used as a dipping sauce for poke. However, a local bakery turned it into a dessert with poi donuts. These are like heaven on Earth, glazed over and loaded with sugar. My sister and I fight over who gets the last poi donut in the house. My best recommendation for getting one of these bites of heaven is from Kamehameha Bakery in City Square Shopping Center. The bakery is always busy because of these well-known deserts. Definitely a must try! This is a picture of what kalo (taro) patches look like!
Must Try Foods in Hawaii #3: Asian Foods
Asian foods in Hawaii are so yummy and highly available. Hawaii has a large Asian population and as a result, produces the best Asian food. I’m talking about authentic ramen (not from a packet,) gyoza (known to most as potstickers,) and chicken katsu (deep fried breaded chicken.) Some of my favorite places are Gyu-Kaku Ramen and Ramen-Ya. There are so many throughout the island that if you google-ed for one, there are probably a dozen in your vicinity!
Must Try Food in Hawaii #4: Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie
Haupia is a Hawaiian dessert made from coconut cream. Ted’s Bakery, a place worthy of pilgrimage to Oahu’s North Shore, is known for making chocolate haupia cream pie. With layers of chocolate and haupia in there, it’s sure to get your taste buds going. You can find their pies at their bakery locations or at any Foodland grocery store. They also make other pies, but this one is my favorite. Whenever I pick up a pie for the family, it usually disappears in 24 hours. That small white cube in the top right corner of the plate is haupia!
Must Try Food in Hawaii #5: Liliha Bakery cream puffs
Liliha Bakery is another local famous bakery known for their amazing to die for cream puffs. I think the best is their chantilly cream puff. Chantilly is a popular local flavor consisting of sweet cream and butter. Liliha Bakery has to be on your list of places to visit. Located in the heart of Kalihi, everyone loves Liliha Bakery. It has been around for as long as I can remember, and one of the best on the island!
If you visit the Big Island, you must try Punalu’u bakery located in Naalehu HI. Their Masada’s and sweetbread’s are scrumptious. This is by far the best Bakery on the islands.