Tips for Eating Like a Local in Hawaii

by Jill Kozak

Sep 16, 2014

Honollulu, Hawaii © Adeliepenguin | Dreamstime


If there’s one thing people in Hawaii love to do, it’s eat. Hawaii’s population is made up of settlers from the east — China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Portugal — who brought their regional cuisines with them. After blending with Western recipes, “local” food was born.

No trip to the island is complete without sampling some of its best foods. Instead of getting too caught up at a resort paying top dollar for food, follow these tips to eat like a local in Hawaii.

Try Plate Lunch: An affordable and delectable way to spend your afternoon is toes in the sand, plate lunch in hand. Plate lunch consists of two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad and your choice of meat — from Korean Kalbi ribs to teriyaki chicken or fried mahi mahi — your choices are almost endless.

Go Mom and Pop: Some of the best kept secrets in Hawaii are little stands or inconspicuous store fronts. Family-run businesses in Hawaii have been around for years likely because they have been doing something right.

Eat poke: Pronounced “po-kay,” poke is Hawaii’s version of sashimi. Diced up bits of raw ahi tuna mixed with onions, seaweed, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili pepper is a true sampling of how fresh fish is in Hawaii. Poke can be found cheaply at delis, grocery stores and even some liquor stores.

Treat yourself to sweets: Everyone has a sweet tooth and luckily Hawaii is full of great options. Try a malasada (Portuguese fried doughnut with sugar), shave ice or just good, old-fashioned passion fruit or mango from a local fruit stand.


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