Must Try Local Hawaiian Cuisines

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Hawaii is much more than just beautiful beaches, impressive surf, pristine tropical rainforests and surging volcanic activity. It’s also a foodie’s paradise, with a multicultural cuisine that’s sure to satisfy even the biggest of appetites. Here’s a quick rundown of five of the best local Hawaiian dishes you must try on your next visit to this laidback archipelago.

Spam Musubi

If the surf beckons you, and you don’t have time for a sit down meal, then consider gorging on a handful of Spam Musubi for a delicious snack that’s sure to give you the energy you need to take on even the most fearsome of waves. Japanese in origin, this local snack comprises of a rice ball, topped with a slice of Spam, and wrapped in seaweed. You’ll find them sold at convenience stores and supermarket delis all around the islands of Hawaii.


Another popular snack held dearly by the locals is Manapua. Much like the Chinese bao, this savory snack is basically a steamed bun made from fresh dough and filled with all kinds of fillings; from curry chicken to barbeque pork, and many more. It gets its name from the shortening of the Hawaiian word mea ono pua’a, meaning pastry for pork, and was introduced to the islands by the Chinese brought over as plantation workers in the mid to late 19th century. Like the Spam Musubi, you can find them at convenience stores displayed with other delectable dim sum.


A deep fried doughnut rolled in sugar and (usually) filled with vanilla or chocolate cream, Malasadas were originally introduced by the Portuguese and are a local favourite throughout the archipelago. You can find them at numerous bakeries scattered all over the island state, and a trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without sampling at least a dozen of these bite-sized treats.

Plate Lunch

One of the most popular local Hawaiian dishes, a plate lunch consists of two scoops of white rice, a side of macaroni or macaroni-potato salad with mayonnaise, and a serving of either chicken, pork or beef. It’s a filling meal, with every square centimeter of the plate covered with food. Ask locals for recommendations on where to try this Hawaiian cuisine, or keep your eyes open and look for restaurants teeming with locals feasting on a plate lunch.


Pronounced “poh-kee”, poke is a popular appetiser commonly served at parties, and is made up of chunks of raw fish or seafood (e.g., octopus, crab and clam) seasoned with chili flakes, chives, soy sauce, Hawaiian sea salt and crunchy seaweed. The best poke are to be found in Chinatown or the Ward Farmer’s market.

So there you have it. Hawaii is a prime destination capable of satisfying both the senses and the stomach. Head on over to or My Hawaii to find out more about this stunning destination in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rest assured: you won’t go hungry in this gorgeous part of the world.

Sarah Pinkerton

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