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Food in Hawaii

Updated on July 23, 2016
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Jaydawg808 writes interesting and innovative articles from a variety of topics and interests.

Hawaii Foods: An Ethnic Melting Pot

Hawaii not only has beautiful beaches, sunsets, and scenery. Hawaii has some of the best tasting food in the country. And this food is uniquely Hawaii. And because of Hawaii being a "melting pot" of several cultures and ethnicity groups, what better place to be than in Hawaii to sample them?

I've lived in Hawaii all my life, and would like to share with you some of what I feel everyone visiting Hawaii should try before leaving the islands. This is just a partial list. Some of you who may have already visited the islands may feel that I've omitted some items. I've included items that I feel that you can get at most establishments.

So, without further ado, let's get to the food!

Malasadas | Source


A malasada is deep fried Portuguese donut. It's a ball of yeast dough that is deep fried in oil, then later coated with sugar. Some variations have sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on them. You can get malasadas even filled with cream. Some of these delicious fillings include custard, haupia, and dobash. One of the most popular sellers of malasadas in Hawaii is Leonards Bakery. If you have not tried this, please treat yourself to this tasty treat! It's delicious!

Loco Moco
Loco Moco | Source

Loco Moco

Loco Moco consists basically of 4 basic ingredients.

1. Rice
2. Hamburger patty
3. Egg (fried, over easy, or scrambled. Basically, an egg any way you like it.)
4. Brown gravy

That's basically it! There are many other variations, but you have to try the basic loco moco. The flavor is all in the brown gravy and the hamburger patty. This is quite a filling dish with all the rice that is included. I would try this at least once when visiting. Many of the local food establishments sell loco moco, so it wouldn't be hard to find.

A typical plate lunch in Hawaii
A typical plate lunch in Hawaii | Source

Plate Lunch

Plate lunches are very popular in Hawaii. They’re called plate lunches, but can also be eaten during dinner or even breakfast. A “plate lunch” mainly consists of a meat, chicken or fish item (or a combination of all of them). This is teamed up with usually two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni or tossed salad. Plate lunches are great and are offered at most local establishments.

It is important to note that plate lunches come in two sizes. 1) a "mini" and, 2) regular plate.

Usually, a mini would consist of less of the meat item and minus a scoop of rice. Generally, a mini is enough for most people. While a regular plate is huge and could be eaten for two meals.

Spam & Eggs
Spam & Eggs | Source


Although Spam is a nationwide product that is sold by Hormel, Hawaii consumes the most of this meat. It is amazingly popular among locals because most dishes use spam in them.

Spam is commonly served with rice. Hence, "spam and rice." Many locals have spam with breakfast. A typical breakfast consists of slices of spam, an egg (prepared any style), and rice. A variation to this is to substitute spam with Portuguese sausage.

Spam is also added to saimin dishes.

Spam Musubi
Spam Musubi | Source

Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi is a combination Japanese/Hawaiian treat that people eat every day in Hawaii. The dish is simple; sliced spam on a block of white rice and wrapped in nori. Nori is Japanese edible seaweed. You can find spam musubi virtually everywhere you go. Even the 7-11 stores sell this. Spam musubi is probably one of the most accessible local food you can get your hands on.

Teriyaki Beef
Teriyaki Beef | Source


Teriyaki is a cooking technique in the Japanese cuisine. It’s basically marinating foods with sweet soy sauce and later cooking them by grilling or broiling. It’s also used as a dipping sauce. Many foods that use teriyaki styles of cooking are: fish, chicken, and beef. Teriyaki is sometimes shorted to “teri.” It’s so popular in Hawaii, that McDonald’s in Hawaii has a Teri Burger. And you guessed it, it’s called the McTeri.

Char Siu
Char Siu | Source

Char Siu

Char Siu is Chinese sweet pork. It's very delicious and should be tried in a variety of dishes. Char Siu is added to dishes such as saimin, won ton mein, and manapua.

Manapua | Source


Manapua consists of a white bun that is steamed or baked and filled with diced pork. Char Siu is usually included as the filling. But there are many other filling variants. Such variants can include hot dogs, chicken and kalua pig. Kalua pig is another Hawaiian dish. Kalua Pig is smoked pork meat. Traditionally it’s slow cooked underground (Hawaiians call this an ‘imu).

Saimin garnished with kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), spam, green onions and egg
Saimin garnished with kamaboko (Japanese fish cake), spam, green onions and egg | Source


Saimin is unique to Hawaii. Saimin is basically consisting of noodles served in hot soup. The soup base is usually made from a fish base (usually kelp, sardines). Most often, green onions, eggs, Japanese fish cake, and char siu are often garnishes included with the saimin. Being how popular saimin is here in Hawaii, you guessed it, local McDonald’s offer saimin on their menu.

Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu chicken is another tasty dish! It's chicken that is marinated in soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger.

Huli Huli Chicken

Another chicken dish that is very popular. Huli huli chicken is grilled chicken that is flavored with soy sauce, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic. It's call "huli huli" after the Hawaiian word which means "to turn." It's often grilled and constantly turning over an open flame. Sort of like a rotisserie in which a piece of meat is turning around from a spit.

Lau Lau

Lau lau is steamed boneless pork, chicken or beef that is salted, then wrapped in taro or ti leaves. You'll almost certainly see lau lau at an authentic Hawaiian luau!

Shave Ice

Shave Ice or a "snow cone" is what locals get when it's hot during the summer months or when they're looking for a tasty treat. The traditional shave ice consists of shaved/crushed ice formed into a cone shape, and topped with colorful flavored syrup.

There you go! Some of the samplings of Hawaii foods. There are much, much more foods to list here, but that would be a large page in itself.

Of the food choices mentioned, which one are you most likely to try?

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Have you been to Hawaii?

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© 2011 jaydawg808

Comments? Any dishes you see here look delicious to you?

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    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      This was so interesting! I love that you have a picture for each one as most of these dishes ar enew to me! Thank you for sharing! Up+

    • rjsadowski profile image


      7 years ago

      What an interesting hub. I love to learn about food in different areas of our country. We ate spam when I was growing up, usually fried, but never right out of the can. Tell us more about life in Hawaii.


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