Hawaiian Cuisine: 8 Signature Dishes to Try

Hawaiian cuisine is a diverse and eclectic mix different cuisines and cultures with origins that date back to 300 AD with use of earth ovens to cook fish and taro. The cuisine of Hawaii has continued to expand as immigrate workers from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal arrived to Hawaii to work the pineapple and sugarcane fields. Each culture brought their own traditional foods to blend to create what we now know as “local food.” While stationed in Hawaii make sure to try a few or all of some of our favorite dishes.

Hawaiian Plate

The Classic Hawaiian Restaurant that has a James Beard Award and a 'Bill  Murray' Table - Hawaii Magazine

Whether you are at a luau or work potluck a Hawaiian Plate is a mix of traditional dishes all paired with rice. Make sure you load your plate with kalua pork, pork/chicken/fish laulau (meat steamed in ti leaves), lomi salmon (salted salmon, tomato, onion), chicken long rice and mac salad. 


ONO SEAFOOD, Honolulu - Diamond Head - Kapahulu - St. Louis - Restaurant  Reviews, Photos & Phone Number - Tripadvisor

If your are a seafood lover or not a fan you must try poke at least once. The word poke means “cut in to chunks” in Hawaiian and is typically make from raw fish but can also make with octopus (tako) and even tofu. The traditional preparation is with Hawaiian sea salt, roasted kukui nuts, and seaweed. Variations of poke can be found all around the islands. 

Loco Moco

You Voted: Here's Your Top 5 Classic Loco Mocos

Call it comfort food or food coma Loco Moco is an island staple. Traditionally it is served with a heaping scoop of rice, large hamburger patty, gravy and an over-easy egg. Be ready for a nap after your done.

Mixed Plate Lunch 

RAINBOW DRIVE-IN, Honolulu - 3308 Kanaina Ave, Diamond Head - Kapahulu -  St. Louis - Menu & Prices - Tripadvisor

If you were looking for healthy or low carb this isn’t the meal but if you wanted to try a true mix of local food make sure to dig in. The origins of plate lunch date back to when plantation workers would share bits and pieces of their lunches to create these delicious bento lunches. A bite of warm rice, cool mac salad and salty / sweet short ribs is the best bite after a long hike or a day at the beach. My favorite combo is always Kalbi (sweet salty short ribs) and Korean Fried chicken (crunchy soy garlic chicken fried to perfection) with brown rice and mac salad. 

Crispy Gau Gee 

Kunia Chinese Restaurant crispy gau gee

Large crispy crunchy fried wonton with tender filling is the perfect add on to any heaping plate of Chinese food. My daughter loves to eat hers hot on the drive home from picking up take out. 

Meat Jun 


Is a unique Korean dish found locally in Hawaii. Marinated slices of beef dipped in flour and egg batter are pan fried and then dipped in tasty shoyu and vinegar sauce. 

  • Young’s Kalbee (98-kauhale St, Suite A2, Aiea, HI) 
  • Dong Yang Inn (546 Olive Ave, Wahiawa, HI) 
  • Soon’s Kal Bi Drive- In (898 Ala Lilikoi Street, Honolulu, HI)

Coco Puff

Liliha Bakery - Waikiki Things To Do

Go to any party, potluck or celebration and there will always be a box of Coco Puffs. We are not talking about the cereal but Hawaiian style cream puff. Choux pastry is filled with delish chocolate pudding and topped with Chantilly frosting.  

Acai Bowl

Our favorite post hike treat can come with a variety of bases and mix of toppings. Typically acai is blended till smooth and topped with fresh fruit, granola, and a sweet drizzle of honey.  My personal favorite is Island Vintage Lilikoi Bowl.  Always order a large if you are sharing with others or tell them to get their own!

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