A beautiful tapestry of flavours and tradition make up the incredible cultural blend that is Hawaiian cuisine. From the bountiful fresh fruits and veggies to the abundant cattle farms and Pacific Ocean waters brimming with sashimi-grade fish, the lucky locals and visitors to Hawaii have some of the highest quality food in the world to enjoy.
The traditional cooking customs met the modern multicultural influences that were brought to Hawaii over generations, giving the cuisine a rich array of flavours, textures, and inspirations that can only be properly enjoyed on the archipelago. Hawaiian regional cuisine is perfect for anything from farm-to-table meals to traditional feasts fit for ke alii (royalty) to any unique little culinary treasures you can get your hands on at any Hawaiian island.
Oahu is a foodie’s dream come true and its capital, Honolulu, has become a culinary Mecca that every food lover must stop at during their explorations of the iconic U.S food cities.
Some classic foodie neighbourhoods like Kaka’ako, Kaimuki and Chinatown are a must-visit to discover the melting pot of trendy eateries and old school diners dishing up local specialties like plate lunch and loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy).
For a truly Hawaiian dining experience visit Chef Chai. The head cook here, chef Chai Chaowasaree, is recognised as a master of Hawaiian regional cuisine. He fuses fresh local ingredients with the exotic flavour palate of Asia to create a truly unique dining experience that reflects the cultural diversity of Oahu and the Hawaiian Islands.
But if you’re in the mood for a quick meal, check out the food trucks on Oahu’s north shore and devour some delicious garlic shrimp. A few to try out are the Famous Kahuku Shrimp, Honos Shrimp Truck, Tita’s Grill and Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, the one that started it all.
Explore the great outdoors on Kauai with an amazing Hawaiian-style picnic at the island’s sunshine markets, or treat yourself to a meal at hotspots you’ll never forget like Merriman’s or Eating House 1849.
If you can’t get enough of the island’s outdoor beauty, The Plantation House by Gaylords has breathtaking garden views and iconic Hawaiian hospitality to make the farm-to-table, island-influenced dishes by Chef Johnny Saguid absolutely divine.
Enjoy Hawaiian-inspired tapas at Bar Acuda in Hanalei’s most stunning location or grab a fresh juice acai bowl at Kalalea Juice Hale, a family-owned business that proudly uses fresh and local ingredients.
For something during a hot summer day, head to Wailua Shave Ice on the north side or The Fresh Shave on the south for shave ice.
A produce rich island with an endless number of culinary experiences, Maui’s got you covered whether you want a fine dining experience or a snack on the side of the road.
For a signature oceanfront dining experience that you could only dream of, head to Huihui at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel where executive chef Tom Muromoto has created a menu that integrates Hawaiian cuisine with modern flavours and fresh local produce.
The Mill House is a classic farm-to-table restaurant in Waikapu serving creative meals in a gorgeous industrial space on a mountainside plantation. The restaurant’s location on the Maui Tropical Plantation honours the regional sugar cane tradition of the past while crafting the future of Maui’s sustainable dining.
For one of the island’s most popular spots, Mama’s Fish House is Maui’s first fresh restaurant and is a must-visit but remember to book in advance to secure a spot.
Island of Hawaii
The island of Hawaii offers dining choices as diverse as its landscapes; just remember to finish your meal with a cup of homegrown Kona coffee.
For a classic Hawaiian dining experience and a dazzling oceanfront setting, Brown’s Beach House at The Fairmont Orchid provides modern cuisine drawn from simple flavours of local produce and fresh-caught fish.
Just in case we didn’t mention enough restaurants with a nice view, Papa Kona has you sorted for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a beautiful sunset view. Enjoy lunch with friends here and by night watch it transform into a party under the stars with flowing cocktails, live music, and an incredible meal.
To cater for your sweet tooth, check out Two Ladies Kitchen and while everyone goes there for the fresh strawberry and azuki bean mochi with whole strawberries nestled inside, the shop has more than 20 flavours of mochi as well as fresh manju daily.
Lanai & Molokai
Despite having smaller populations, the islands of Lanai and Molokai serve up tons of local flavour from beautiful fresh bread and pillowy doughnuts at Kanemitsu’s Bakery in Kaunakakai to high-end sushi from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Showing off the local food scenes are prestigious events like the Hawaii Wine & Food Festival where top-tier chefs, sommeliers and winemakers from around Hawaii (and the world) showcase their talents.
From poi to pancakes, learn all about the “staff of life” at the East Maui Taro Festival, and sample a real Hawaiian delicacy in all its forms at the Waikiki Spam Jam.
If you thought Aussie coffee was nice, you have to visit the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, while beloved events like the Maui Onion Festival, Lanai Pineapple Festival and Kauai Coconut Festival pay homage to local crops.
Of course, a trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without experiencing the sensory delights of an authentic luau – nightly celebrations of the islands’ rich culture and cuisine that are nothing short of ono (delicious).
Pay a visit to the many islands of Hawaii for a unique blend of culture filling your plate with food you can find nowhere else.