Must-Try Foods on the Big Island, Hawaii
Hawaii island, the largest island in the state of Hawaii, offers sweet treats and savory dishes that have become popular local favorites sought after by visitors from near and far.
Here are just a few of the must-try foods when visiting the Big Island.
Two Ladies Kitchen Strawberry Mochi
The words Two Ladies Kitchen and Strawberry Mochi go hand in hand.
However, when stepping into Two Ladies Kitchen, don't expect to see two ladies in the kitchen. Well, you may very well see two ladies in the kitchen, but most likely you'll also see men - both young and old, as well as young women helping to run the shop, which both tourists and locals alike flock to in order to purchase their ono Strawberry Mochi.
Although they do offer other varieties of mochi such as Lilikoi Mochi, Peanut Butter Mochi, and Sweet Potato Mochi, the Strawberry Mochi is their number one seller.
An entire fresh strawberry is covered in tsubushi-an (bean paste) and enveloped in fresh, soft mochi.
This family-owned shop strives to bring only the freshest products to its customers, so it shouldn't be surprising that they have gone without making their famous creation if fresh, whole strawberries are not available.
Call ahead to order these delectable treats, as they often run out, especially during New Year's, when mochi is often eaten as part of cultural celebrations, and the Merrie Monarch Festival, held during April.
Two Ladies Kitchen: 274 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720; 808-961-4766
Hilo Lunch Shop Mustard Maki
Hilo Lunch Shop offers a variety of menu items you can buy by the piece to create your own lunch.
Locals call such a restaurant an okazuya, as customers can pick and choose from such options as Shrimp Tempura, Sweet Potato Tempura, Tofu Patty, Spam, and Egg Omelette to create their own special plate lunch of goodies.
Besides the okazu options, another huge draw is the Mustard Maki - maki sushi rolled in mustard cabbage instead of the typical nori (seaweed).
The mustard cabbage is pleasing to the eye as well as to the palette, giving the sushi a nice green wrapper in addition to a little spicy kick.
The Mustard Maki sells out quickly, as does just about all of their okazu items, so get there early or call ahead to see if it's available.
Hilo Lunch Shop: 421 Kalanikoa St; Hilo, HI 96720; 808-935-8273
Big Island Candies Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread Cookie
True, you can order Big Island Candies' cookies and confections online, but a visit to their retail location is a treat for your senses - you'll be welcomed by the fragrance of chocolate while browsing the store and watching treats being made, and you'll even get to sample some of their mouth-watering goodies.
You'll feel as if you're a kid in a candy (and cookie) store!
Display shelves filled with tempting treats, such as boxes of Chocolate Covered Mint Brownies, canisters of Toffee Coated Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts, and bags of Hawaiian Red Chili Toffee make it difficult to not want to buy several bags full of Big Island Candies products for yourself or as omiyage for loved ones back home.
It's hard to resist all of the cookies, brownies, and candies, but if you must only buy one item, stick to their world-famous Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread, which other shops have tried to replicate, but many agree that none can compare.
Big Island Candies: 585 Hinano Street Hilo, HI 96720; 808-935-8890
Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies Mac Nut Cookie
Although not as well known as Big Island Candies, Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies still have a loyal following and attract numerous visitors with a cookie craving.
Hand-made daily using fresh, local ingredients, it's no wonder Mrs. Barry's cookies are sought after.
Their Award Winning Mac Nut Cookie is full of chocolate chips, raisins and macadamia nuts.
Other flavors include Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip, as well as island-inspired varieties such as Coconut Shortbread and Hawaiian Wedding - a tea cookie with mac nuts.
Taste why locals and tourists stop at this shop to pick up a cookie or two (or a dozen).
Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies: 73-5563 Maiau Street Kailua-Kona, HI 96740; 808-329-6055
Da Poke Shack Shoyu Ahi Poke
"Hole-in-the-wall" restaurants are known to be some of the most popular types of restaurants throughout the state of Hawaii, serving delicious, local food with aloha at reasonable prices, and Da Poke Shack is no exception.
Da Poke Shack offers several varieties of poke (raw fish) that can adequately be described in one word - FRESH (just-caught fish can often be seen being sliced in-store to make the poke).
Locals and tourists alike rave about the freshness of Da Poke Shack's poke in addition to the several varieties of ready-made poke available, such as the Tako (Octopus) Poke, or the ever-popular Shoyu Ahi (Tuna) Poke.
Customers also have the ability to "create your own" with such flavorings and fixings as shoyu, eel sauce, avocado, ginger, onions, and sugar.
For the freshest poke in Kona, or probably even the island, and perhaps even in the state, Da Poke Shack is where it's at.
Da Poke Shack: 76-6246 Alii Dr # 101 Kailua-Kona, HI 96740; 808-329-7653