Top 12 Best Hawaii Local Food You Must Try

best hawaii local food

When visiting Hawaii there are foods that you must try because you will not find it anywhere else in the world. Flavor is unique because it is blend of ingredients introduce from immigrants from Japan, China, Philippines, Portugal, and of course Native Hawaiians. Here’s a look at the top best Hawaii local food.

What is Hawaii Food Known For?

If you ask any local what to eat. They will tell you that you must try a “plate lunch.” The term plate lunch means a scoop or two of white rice, macaroni salad, and whatever local special the restaurant is cooking that day.

Best Hawaii Local Food

Kalbi plate lunch

best hawaii local food, kalbi plate

Kali plate lunch is one of local favorites. It is beef short ribs marinated in soy sauce, sugar, water, fresh ginger, ginger cloves, and sesame oil. After marinating over night, short ribs can be cooked on a grill. For most locals of course grilling at the beach but you can always find it at any local restaurant as their Kalbi plate lunch. 

Chicken Katsu plate lunch

hawaii cuisine, chicken Katsu

My go to food when hungry is Chicken Katsu plate. Chicken Katsu is breaded chicken cutlet, mainly boneless chicken breast pounded thin, dredged in flour, egg,  and panko. Fried until golden Brown. Always ask for Katsu sauce. Basically it is ketchup mixed with brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Loco Moco

top best hawii local foods you must try

If you want try a true local dish that locals have to eat. It has to be the Loco Moco.  Hamburger patty grilled place on bed of white rice topped with over easy eggs. But what makes the Loco Moco delicious is the brown gravy that is pour on top of the dish all over. Just thinking about this food is making my salivate . In fact, I probably will have a Loco Moco plate lunch for dinner tonight.  Yes, the term plate lunch can be eaten anytime of the day.

Kalua Pork and cabbage

best of hawaii food

Kalua pork and cabbage is a favorite local dish can be found anywhere at any hole in the wall restaurant. Kalua pork is usually pork butt or whole pig cooked in an underground oven called an “Imu.” The underground oven is filled with hot rocks and the entire pig is wrapped in banana leaves. The entire pig wrapped in banana leaves is then covered on top of hot rocks and then covered with dirt to keep the heat in. Once completed after several hours of cooking the pig is then pulled out. The pork is tender, moist and juicy seasoned with Hawaiian salt. Pulled pork is then mixed with cabbage cabbage. 

Lau Lau

hawaii food

Another local favorite is Laulau. Pork butt cooked seasoned and steamed with Hawaiian Salt, mixed with sweet potato, black cod, mixed and wrapped with Taro leaves. This dish can be cooked in a steamer and it is popular when you go to any Hawaiian parties called Luau. 


best hawaii local food (poke)

  Hawaiian Poke  bowl is a delightful dish made of cube raw tuna served as an appetizer or main dish and a staple Hawaiian cuisine.

 When visiting Hawaii one of the popular dishes throughout the islands is called Poke Bowl. You can get a poke bowl at any local grocery store. Poke Bowl comes with White rice and choice of raw tuna marinated in special sauce. The most common types of choices are spicy poke or shoyu style poke. I would recommend you try the spicy poke. Raw tuna mixed with mayonnaise and shirachi hot sauce. Lots of locals would get a poke bowl for lunch or when heading down to the beach. If you are hungry or would like to share with your partner most of poke bowls with two or three choices. 

Of course, when staying at a resort they also would offer poke bowls. But I would strongly recommend you get them in one of the local grocery stores instead. They have all sorts of choices from tuna, cooked shrimp, cooked mussels, or even scallops. The choices are endless. 


best hawaii local food ( saimin)

Saimin is comfort food for Hawaii locals. Most families usually have S&S brand fresh noodles in their fridge. Although you have dry Ramen noodles packages available, here in Hawaii most restaurants or at home has fresh noodles. Basically whatever is in your fridge as left overs can be used as topping. But most common ingredients are fish cakes also known as Kamaboko, green onions, protein in your fridge which usually is charsiu pork. Charsiu pork is Chinese BBQ pork. You can also add soybeans or boiled egg for additional toppings.


Poi is traditionally made by mashing cooked starched on wooden board. In Hawaii Poi is usually made of Taro. Constantly mashing the taro by pounding it on the wooden board to produce a dense texture similar to yogurt. Poi can be eaten when fresh and sweet. Or it can be fermented to give that sour taste. Poi is best eaten with Kalua pig. 


Chinese style bun in wooden steamer

Manapua also known as Charsiu bao where it has it roots from China. A bun filled with charsiu bbq pork. You can find Manapua at most local bakeries in Hawaii.

Spam Musubi

hawaii food (Spam Musubi)

Hawaii loves their spam. You will find spam in McDonalds breakfast platter, sometimes found in a plate lunch. But the most favorite snack is Spam Musubi. White Rice topped with spam wrapped in nori or seaweed wrap. You will find Spam Musubi at any convenient store in Hawaii. In fact, you can also play a round of golf that would cost you about $300 a round and find a food cart with Spam Musubi also. 

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Hawaiian food Salmon Lomi Lomi. Salmon with tomatoes, onion and lemon

Lomi lomi Salmon is a popular side dish when going to any local party. You will usually be served with white rice or poi, along with Kalua pork, and a side of lomi lomi salmon or Macaroni salad. Lomi lomi means mixing. It is fresh diced tomatoes mixed with small dices of salmon, onions, and scallions. Seasoned with Hawaiian salt. Mix it all together like a salad. This goes very well with Kalua pork or Laulau. 

Tako (Octopus)

Fresh octopus salad

Living in Hawaii has its benefits. Not only the weather but also the sea. Most local fisherman can be seen with fishing pole or like most local teenagers do, dive for fish. They usually dive for fish or tako. Tako or Octopus is usually cooked in boiling water until tender. Once cooked the legs are chopped and mixed with onions tomato, scallions, sesame oil, and a little soy sauce. Similar to how you make fish poke. In Hawaii living on the beach and gathering food is essential. So Tako is something that you will find at any beach party.


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