Tag: Food

5 Must-Eat Cuisines in Hawaii

Must eats final

They don’t call it paradise for nothing. Hawaii is well-known for it’s incredible year-round weather, scenic beaches, nice people and aloha spirit. But when it comes to food, Hawaii has some of the most diverse and delicious cuisines from all over the world. Because Hawaii’s population is made up of settlers from the east- China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines and from the west, a rich local food tradition was born. Without further ado, here’s my list of the 5 must-eat cuisines in Hawaii:


CHINESE (1)Perhaps no cuisine ups the ante more than Chinese food in Honolulu. Forget about your greasy neighborhood Egg Fu Young joint. Honolulu serves up some of the tastiest Chinese dishes, from chow fun, lobster prepared your way (I prefer black bean sauce), minute chicken with cake noodle (only found in Hawaii) and dim sum that rivals Hong Kong. Leave your preconceived notions of what Chinese food is at the door, because Hawaii’s Chinese food will definitely impress you.


JAPANESEIf you thought Japanese food is synonymous with sushi, you’re only half right. There are so many other amazing dishes and concepts that comprise Japanese cuisine. Pictured above is a Japanese-style hot pot- a mouth-watering amalgamation of tender meats and fresh veggies slowly simmering in a spicy broth. Pair it with some beer, and now you know why this popular and fun way to eat makes for lines out the doors. Hawaii also has udon (thick hot or cold noodle) restaurants, places for yakitori (grilled meat skewers), sukiyaki (another version of hot pot cooking) and butter yaki (similar to cooking in a hot pot, but everything is cooked in butter instead). Of course the sushi quality in Hawaii rivals that of Japan, so don’t forget to indulge in raw fish while in Hawaii.



You would think this would go without saying, but you must try Hawaiian food in Hawaii! So many people come here and don’t even know what Hawaiian food is. They are missing out. Here’s a list of some popular Hawaiian dishes: Chicken long rice, haupia (congealed coconut custard), lau-lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves and steamed), kalua pork (cooked underground), lomi lomi salmon (cubed raw salmon salad), pipikaula (dried, seasoned beef like beef jerky only tastier) and poi (pounded taro root pudding). You might find some variations of the aforementioned items at different fast-food or even sit-down restaurants, but nothing beats an old Hawaiian grandmother serving you her recipes in a traditional Hawaiian restaurant. Try Ono Hawaiian Foods on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu. 


-POPThink you know a thing or two about good BBQ? Unless you’re talking about Korean BBQ, you don’t. Korean food is my favorite cuisine and here’s why: there are innumerable flavor combinations possible from one simple sit down meal. A typical Korean dinner entails several different types of meat you grill on the table yourself (social and fun) and never-ending bon chon, or side dishes. Picture kimchee (fermented cabbage), salad, daikon radish kimchee, boiled potatoes, gochujang (fermented spicy/delicious bean paste), sprouts, noodles, rice, fish cake, cabbage…the list is literally never-ending. Pictured above is a Korean BBQ plate lunch consisting of barbecue chicken, beef and kalbi (the king of meats, also the tastiest), a variety of veggies, white rice and mac salad. Believe me, you have to have Korean food in Hawaii. They know what they’re doing.



Local style is a term for anything locals like to do. That’s no exception to food. Local style food can be pretty much anything the locals like to eat, from ahi salad with mango salsa (pictured above), to spam musubi (spam on top of rice wrapped in nori), hot dogs, saimin (noodle soup) fried chicken, li hing mui (Chinese salted dry plum) candy, mochi, and shave ice. When in Rome!

Ten things I love about Hawaii

It’s no secret that basically all I do is gush about life in Hawaii. Is it really THAT good? To me, yes! Everyday I have a moment of blissful adoration for Maui, whether it be an amazing sunset I catch, a view of the mountains at just the right light, or a “Try Go Slow, Kids at Play…Mahalo” sign. What is it about this place that is so special?

It’s probably the food.

Among other reasons, I’ve comprised a list of 10 things I absolutely love about Hawaii, in no particular order. I know I can come up with many more…perhaps this will become a series of posts to come.

1. Always having dirty feet: No matter what I do to try to keep my feet clean, they always end up tracking some dirt or sand into the house. I think my heel is permasealed with dirt. Hey, in a place you can go practically anywhere barefoot, it’s liberating to go sans-shoes once in a while!

2. Wild chickens, roosters and peacocks roam around everywhere: I thought that chickens just lived in the country, but it turns out that even the suburban areas of Maui  have roosters crowing at the crack of dawn, running across the street whenever they want and basically just living the chicken life (aka the goooood life) here in Hawaii.

3. The Hawaiian tradition to remove your slippahs and shoes before entering the house: This is one of my favorite Hawaiian traditions brought by the Japanese plantation workers back in the day. You know the party is bumpin’ when you see a pile of 30 plus slippahs (sandals) and shoes outside the door. While house hunting, I met with a realtor who took off his dress shoes before entering any of the properties he showed us. That’s life in Hawaii…respecting your living space and leaving the outside outside (as much as possible since you’re likely to have dirty feet).

4. It’s legal, acceptable and FUN to ride in the back of trucks: Some of the most fun I’ve ever had was hitching rides in the back of pick-up trucks…Windy, rainy? Who cares? Sitting on a wheel well, cruising in the back while you’re being driven through a winding gulch is better and more beautiful than any roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Sometimes you see kids just chilling in the back of trucks or people parked up at the beach sitting in their beach chairs in the back of their trucks watching the surf. The back of a truck is a local hangout!

I’ve probably used this photo 100 times, but c’mon..look at this fun group of hooligans! Five people, one truck.

5. Plastic bags at grocery stores have been OUTLAWED! Paper & reusable bags only: My heart melts for this one. A place that’s actually environmentally friendly enough to BAN plastic bags? Rock on! Hawaii’s unique circumstance of being surrounded in all directions by thousands of miles of open ocean means that a lot of life here depends on keeping the oceans clean and healthy. Unnecessary trash and debris, especially plastic bags, threaten to ruin our most precious Eco-system. Plus, it’s just good practice to keep reusable bags in the car.

6. There’s a huge movement to buy local, farm-fresh produce: There’s a reason I wear a trucker hat with an emblem of the Hawaiian islands, a taro leaf and a recycle symbol signifying a movement for a sustainable Hawaii. Those that live here know expensive produce and food in general is because it’s shipped from the mainland. Those that are visiting usually can’t believe their eyes at our prices in the grocery stores. Who can blame them? Luckily people are in favor of buying local, organic, supporting the farmers or even starting their own farms. I’m in the process of weeding my yard so I can plant some herbs, veggies and fruits. Though right now I’m not in the position to live off my garden, I’d love one day to only supplement my diet at the grocery store rather than rely on it.

7. The availability of good food is mind-blowing: There’s sushi happy hours everywhere, ahi poke (raw, cubed ahi tuna dressed with sesame oil, soy sauce, sea salt, green onions, Maui onion, limu seaweed and chili pepper), plate lunches with mac salad, teriyaki beef, white rice, fresh Maui Gold pineapple, huli huli chicken (BBQ chicken), garlic shrimp, korean tacos, lau lau (pork steamed inside taro leaves)…The food alone is reason to live here, to be honest.

Lau lau and all the fixings. You haven’t lived ’til you’ve eaten ono (delicious) Hawaiian food

8. Hawaii’s a cultural melting pot: I can’t get over the cultural diversity here. I love it. There’s Hawaiian, Caucasian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Portuguese…what a great place to live! I get exposure every day to new customs, traditions and most interestingly, recipes from all these different cultures. It’s also awesome to think that I’m just as close to Asia as the mainland, so if I ever want to vacation to Asia, it’s not an arm and a leg away. Score on all accounts.

9.  The lack of materialism: You would hardly know who’s a millionaire here and who is a beach bum. Dressing up in Hawaii is an Aloha shirt (you’ve seen ’em..typical floral print shirts) and khakis. Professionals only sometimes tuck in their shirts. You won’t be looked down upon if you rock a sarong and slippahs or drive around shirtless (guys). As far as I can tell, everyone is treated as an equal.

10. Having respect for the ‘aina: This is an essential for living in Hawaii and something I learn again and again here. To get respect, you have to give respect: for people, animals, plants and the precious land. Leave only footprints and make only memories is a phrase I hear often here.