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Hawaiian Food: 8 Best Foods to Try in Hawaii

If you don't explore the cuisine of the place you visit, does it really count? Here are 8 most popular and traditional foods in Hawaii that you must try when visiting.

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By Aistė

Published: Jan 22, 20244 min read

Hawaiian Food: 8 Best Foods to Try in Hawaii

Hello foodies! Here's a wrap of all the must-try foods when in Hawaii. 


Not to miss out: Giovanni's Shrimps!

I'm bad at not spoiling the most exciting things first: as much as other foods on this list are must-tries, this is my absolute personal favourite. Giovanni's Shrimp Truck serves shrimp that is often locally sourced, giving travelers a real taste of the island's seafood. Their garlic shrimp is so simple that it's impossible not to love. It's a simple dish – shrimp sautéed with heaps of garlic and served with rice – but it's made in a way that has earned a lot of praise. 

You can find Giovanni's Shrimp Truck in Kahuku & Haleiva, both located in Oahu island. The food truck is located in a laid-back, outdoor places, further away from all the touristic buzz, giving you the authentic Hawaiian dining experience. And you have to go there. #PromiseNOTsponsored

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Now moving on from fan-girling… 


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Poke bowl

Welcome to the land of poke bowls. Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish. It usually features raw fish, such as tuna or salmon, which is often local from Hawaii, making it incredibly fresh. Poke bowls come with various options for personalization, including the type of fish, base (like rice, quinoa, or greens), and loads of toppings and sauces. In Hawaii, you'll get ingredients like seaweed, Hawaiian salt, and kukui nuts that give their poke bowls a unique taste that you won't find elsewhere! 




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Hawaiian shave ice

Hawaiian Shave Ice is a popular dessert made from finely shaved ice, resembling soft snow, which is then drizzled with a variety of flavored syrups. And not, it's not the same as snow cones. These are typically made with crushed ice, meaning that they're way less fine and fluffy than the Hawaiian shaved ice. 

The origins of Hawaiian shave ice trace back to the plantation era of Hawaii when Japanese immigrants introduced the concept, akin to Japan's "kakigori." You'll find plenty of spots selling these in Honolulu. 


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This one's very Hawaiian but not necessarily something that you'll like. Spam is a brand of canned cooked pork (waaait, don't judge before trying) that became popular in Hawaii during and after World War II. Over the years, Spam has been embraced by Hawaiian culture and incorporated into a variety of local dishes. It's known for its salty, savory flavor and various uses in various recipes, so you can find it almost everywhere. 




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Acai bowl

While acai bowls are now a thing worldwide, you must try one in Hawaii. Acai bowls start with a base of acai berries, which are known for being high in antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Hawaiian acai bowls often include a variety of local toppings like fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut flakes, and local honey, so you basically get a taste of Hawaii. 





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Kalua pig

"Kalua" is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method where the pig is slow-cooked in an underground oven called an imu. This method gives the meat a unique, smoky flavor that's hard to replicate with other cooking techniques. It can be served as a main dish, in sandwiches, tacos, or as part of a mixed plate with rice, for example. 

Kalua Pig is often associated with Hawaiian luaus, so you're not only eating - you're experiencing a part of Hawaiian culture!




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Loco Moco

It's a Hawaiian dish with a very fun name, said to be invented in the 1940s. It consists of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy (there's a vegetarian option, too). Loco Moco is a beloved local dish and an example of Hawaiian comfort food. Like a Hawaiian version of mac & cheese, give or take. 

It represents the melting pot of cultures in Hawaii, combining elements from American (hamburger), Asian (rice), and local Hawaiian (gravy) cuisines. 



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Lomi Lomi Salmon

The dish combines salted salmon, tomatoes, onions, and green onions and was originally introduced to the Hawaiian islands by Western sailors. Lomi Lomi Salmon is prepared by massaging (Lomi) the ingredients together. It's the perfect accompaniment to heavier dishes like Kalua Pig, offering a balanced and authentic Hawaiian flavor. 




Which one's your favorite? Psst: I really didn't like the spam thing. You still have to try it yourself, though!


Going to Hawaii? Here's more:


7 Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii 2024 

Jan 22, 2024

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