It’s always more fun to eat your way through Hawaii with good friends. These are the local favorites that we “like”, whether it’s with an adventurous friend who will try everything, or shared on social media for your virtual circle to enjoy.

1. Hawaiian Plate

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

Hawaiian plates with poi, mac salad, poi, laulau and rice.

You can find it anywhere, whether you’re at a lunch wagon, a restaurant or at someone’s home. But when you’re in Reno, you must do what the locals do and order a plate of Hawaiian food in reno. You can order a scoop of rice, chicken or pork laulau, pipikaula (dried meat), lomi salmon, and poi (taro), on the side. For dessert, you can have kulolo (taro cream pudding and coconut cream pudding) and haupia. You can mix and match the ingredients, and you can eat it until you Kanak feel full (or want to become into a food coma). 

2. All-Natural Shave Ice

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

The Islands’ farm-totable movement now includes Hawaii’s famous frozen treat. It is becoming easier to find a bowl of finely-shaved ice, over which are generously poured housemade, all-natural, local syrups. This evolved shaved ice is a relic of cool cones’ past. Japanese workers were contracted to work in Hawaii sugarcane and pineapple fields. They brought shaved ice. The machetes of plantation workers were used to finely shave large blocks of ice and then pour the fruit juice over the fluffy white ice.

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, located in the Aina Haina Shopping Center at Oahu, makes each shave-ice cup with natural syrups. Uncle Clay Chang opened the east Honolulu Shave Ice Counter with his nephew Bronson. It features pineapple and local strawberries. A chocolate version with Waialua chocolate makes shave ice even sweeter. Tropical Dreams vanilla Ice Cream, from Kamuela, Hawaii Island, makes their shave ice even more delicious. Ice cream, which is a Japanese red bean boiled with sugar, is a popular addition to shave ice.

3. Saimin

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

Saimin, one of Hawaii’s most beloved local foods is an iteration on a Chinese egg-noodle soup. It was created during the Island’s plantation era. The different immigrant groups that have influenced Hawai’i’s history can be seen in the way the recipe was modified, including thin Chinese chow mein-inspired noodles simmered in a Japanese broth.

More ingredients were added to the mix as more people moved in–green onions and kamaboko, Spam, Portuguese sausage, Spam, and kimchi–to create the iconic bowls of Saimin we see today. It’s so well-known that you can order it at Aloha Stadium sporting events, and even at McDonald’s locations throughout Hawaii. Star Noodle in Maui is a popular saimin shop. You can really immerse yourself in old-school nostalgia by finding a mom-and-pop that has been around for generations. 

4. Coconut

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

This dessert is by Alan Wong. It’s made with haupia, passionfruit (sauce from Hawaii Island), and fresh seasonal fruits. This dessert is stunning. You’ll want to take pictures of every edge before you dig into the creamy sorbet. The chocolate shell with toasted coconut shavings may look like the fruit’s skin, but every bit of this dessert is edible. To make the dessert look realistic, the Alan Wong’s staff must have special training, including molding the chocolate shells and scooping the sorbet.

Alan Wong’s signature dessert is the Coconut. The King Street restaurant sells between 20 to 40 Coconuts each night. Wong prepared it for Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama during their annual December vacation to Oahu. This crowd-pleasing dish will make you feel like a president.

5. Taro Ko Farm Chips

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

Taro Ko Farm’s uala (sweet potato), and potato chips can be described as the best food. These handmade chips can be found only in Kauai, at an old greenhouse. If you drive too fast, you might miss it. It’s simple. If you open the door, Dale Nagamine will be selling bags made from brown boxes for $5 each. You’re out luck if the door is closed. The li-hing mui (dried plum flavored potato chips) are addictive. They are made with just four ingredients: potatoes and garlic salt, soybean oil, lihing mui powder, and soybean oil. It’s sweet and addictive, just like sweet barbecue potato chips. 

6. Poke

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

Poke doesn’t just make a great dish in Hawaii. It’s also a way to live. This chunky, raw-fish salad is a favorite at all kinds of parties, including birthday paina and casual beach picnics. It is hard to find a better place than its home, where you can enjoy a wide variety of seafood and an incredible selection of flavors. It transcends all culinary boundaries, from hole-in-the-wall restaurants in residential areas to luxurious resorts in Hawaii.

Poke is a type of ceviche. However, instead of an acidic taste, you can get your taste buds ready for something bolder and more savory, unique to the Islands. It is made from thick sections of your choice of seafood, such as ahi or hee (octopus), and mixed with different seasonings.

Hawaiian poke is the most traditional Hawaiian dish. It’s simple and pure. There are many recipes that have been influenced by the various cultures that have immigrated to the Islands, including onions, garlic, ginger, shoyu (soy sauce), and ginger. There are many places to find poke in the Islands. However, Pola Poke Bowls’ delicious ahi poke is a good place to start. (Beware of the small parking lot) If you’re visiting Reno, NV. You can find poke almost anywhere in this location, but Pola Poke Bowls’ delicious ahi poke is a great place to start if you’re on Reno, NV.

7. Luau Stew

7 Hawaiʻi Dishes You Must Try

What is more memorable than a good taste memory? This dish is likely to bring back memories of Hawaii’s tutu (grandma) home cooking, and first birthday parties. For visitors, it’s your chance to create one. Luau stew falls easily into the category of Hawaiian comfort foods–proof that simpler is better. They are made with Kalo (taro leaves), and then they are cooked until they reach that perfect, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Finally, they are seasoned with some Hawaiian sea salt, and that’s all. Although the most well-known luau stew is made from beef brisket (but you can find other versions all over Hawaii), it’s still very popular. You can also spice this already delicious dish with some ginger, onion and coconut milk. For example, Chef Mark Noguchi has been bringing the luau stew recipes that his grandmother passed to him to every kitchen where he cooks. His most recent creations can be found at Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu.

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