Eat like a local. If you get into the native food, you’ll discover another another reason to like Hawaii. Here’s our insider’s guide to the regional flavors you should sample while in town.
Musubi de Spam
Spam scares mainlanders. However, it is beneficial! Really! This salty mystery meat is a staple of the native cuisine in Hawaii. During World War II, when fresh meat was scarce, citizens stockpiled on the rations familiar to soldiers. Spam musubi has taken over as the island’s favorite snack at delis and 7-Elevens. What, then, is a spam musubi? Typically, a good thick slice of spam is cooked in a sugar and soy sauce combination, then put on top of a molded block of white rice and wrapped in nori (dried seaweed).
Residents in Waikiki are so fond of Spam that they have an annual event dubbed the Spam Jam. Pick one up fresh from the heated oven at an ABC Store for a quick snack. You’ll be hooked after a day at the beach!
The significant Asian impact on Hawaii’s food is seen in many of the islands’ cuisine. This phrase is commonly used in Hawaii. A mixed plate lunch is a packed meal that typically includes two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni salad, and the main dish, which may include barbecue chicken, chicken katsu, beef stew, or kalbi ribs (Korean short ribs). This phrase and idea originated during Hawaii’s plantation era, when laborers of many nationalities would share meals in order to construct plate lunches that included foods from several ethnic groups into one plate of delectable local diversity. There are many eateries, quick food restaurants, and stores open for lunch. At L & L Hawaiian BBQ, we adore the platters.
The Loco Moco
This famous meal consists of a hamburger, rice, and brown gravy, all topped with a fried egg. There are many variants using fish, Spam, Portuguese sausage, and other meats that are unique to Hawaii. This full, powerful dinner was developed in the late 1940s on the Big Island. According to legend, the restaurant’s name originated from a regular adolescent customer who was pleased by the restaurant’s large servings. He named it loco, which means crazy, and moco, which rhymed and sounded good. This local legend is available at the majority of fast food plate lunch establishments. Our favorite is Zippy’s, a local eatery serving a variety of Hawaiian and regional dishes.
A Japanese ramen, Filipino pancit, and Chinese mein-inspired noodle soup. Unlike ramen, saimin noodles include eggs. They were developed during Hawaii’s Plantation period. Green onions, spam, kamaboko (steamed fish cake), char siu (roast pork), or gyoza (Japanese pot stickers) are often used as garnishes for your bowl of saimin. You just cannot top the saimin at Zippy’s – they serve fresh noodles daily!
Shave the Ice
Shave IceResembles a snow cone in appearance, but tastes nothing like our local version. Because the shave ice is so thin, tastes intermingle with it rather of sinking to the bottom of the cup like they do with a snow cone. As if it were a soft, powdered ice available in a rainbow of tastes. There are the traditional flavors such as Coca-Cola, Strawberry, Banana, Bubble Gum, and Vanilla, but you must also try Lilikoi (passion fruit) and Haupia (Coconut) with Li hing mui (powder made from dried and salted plums).
The flavors don’t end there; at shave ice shops, you can often personalize your delicacy by adding mochi balls (sweet chewy rice confection balls), azuki beans (sweet red beans), ice cream, or sweetened condensed milk, or all of the above for a gigantic treat on a sunny day. Perfect for capping after a walk or following a day at the beach. Shave ice is available at shave ice shops around Waikiki and the North Shore region. Without a doubt, our favorite is Haleiwa’s extremely renowned and famous Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. It’s a trek from Waikiki and the lines are insane, but after a hard day on the North Shore, this shave ice is incredible – YUM! Lychee and banana with ice cream
Malasadas are a traditional Portuguese delicacy that may be thought of as a softer, chewier doughnut without the hole. They were originally created by residents of SÜo Miguel Island, which is part of the Azores. Portuguese workers from the Azores arrived in Hawaii in 1878 to work on the plantations, bringing with them their traditional cuisine, including this delectable dessert. Today, the islands are home to a slew of bakeries specialized in malasadas. Scooping up the dough using ice cream scoopers, it is then deep fried and sugared. They are a popular choice for parties and brunch in the neighborhood. Originally sans fillings, this delectable delicacy now comes in custard, chocolate, haupia (coconut), and even guava varieties.