Wednesday, September 02, 2015

10 Must Eat Dishes in Hawaii


I'm lucky enough to be able to call Hawai'i home...along with 1.4 million other people. According to the 2014 U.S. census, over fifty-six percent of the island state's population identifies as some kind of minority group. This heavy cultural mix shows through on the island not only in its unique culture, but in the food.

Today, I'm sharing my top 10 must-eat dishes to eat while in Hawai'i. Plus, some of my favorite places to get them.

1. Poke
It's raw, cubed fish (usually ahi) seasoned with different things. My personal favorite is Spicy Ahi Poke. My parents love the Ahi Limu (soy sauce, seaweed and onions). A classic is the Shoyu Poke (Ahi with soy sauce). You can also get Tako (octopus) Poke. Poke is available all around the island from plate lunch shops to restaurants to grocery stores.

2. Ramen
Hawai'i is heavily influenced by the Japanese culture due to the large amount of Japanese immigrants (and tourists) we get each year. Therefore, ramen in Hawaii is extremely authentic and unlike any other ramen you've had on the mainland. If you're on the island of Oahu, go to Goma Tei in Ala Moana. I love their Tan Tan ramen.

3. Manapua
Something that lot of people are surprised to know about my childhood in Hawaii is that we didn't really have an ice cream truck. We did, on the other hand, have a manapua truck. WAY better than ice cream. Dan the Manapua Man did sell ice cream but most people didn't buy those, they bought Manapuas. Basically they're the Hawaiian version of a Char Sui Bao. A steamed bun with pork on the inside. However, they're 3 times the size of the average char sui bao. You can also get them baked with a honey glaze on the outside which is how I prefer them.

4. Kahuku Shrimp
Kahuku Shrimp is a staple of the North Shore on the island of Oahu. There are shrimp trunks all across the north shore that sells plate lunches of Kahuku Shrimp. However, unlike the modern day food trucks, you must drive to them. They stay in the same spot. Make time to drive to Kahuku to get yourself a plate of garlic shrimp. It will be entirely worth it.

5. Ox Tail Soup
Ox tail soup is probably the definition of a home-cooked soulful meal for me. It's savory, warm, delicious and hearty. The meat just falls right off the bone and it's just heavenly. Add on a side of ginger and some steamed rice and you're set. You may even want to take some home.

6. Honey Toast
Also known as brick toast, this dessert is perfect for people who don't like extremely sweet things and those who have a sweet tooth. It's a brick wall of toast crust that holds cubed bread, and ice cream inside, drizzled with honey. What's not to like about it? If you're near the Waikiki and Ala Moana side on Oahu, stop by Shokudo--a restaurant famous for their honey toast.

7. Mochi Ice Cream
This is a sweet, Japanese rice cake with ice cream inside. They're shaped similarly to miniature rounds of cheeses, but they're sweet, colorful, chewy and delicious. Bubbie's Ice Cream is the number one spot you can go to to get your fix. You can order as many as you want and choose as many flavors as you want. I recommend the green tea flavor.

8. Chantilly anything
Chantilly is something that's only available in Hawai'i. It's basically the coconut frosting from a german chocolate cake, but without the coconut. You won't find Chantilly anywhere else, so be sure to get your fix while you're there. My two favorites are Chantilly cake from Napolean's Bakery/Zippy's and Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs. They come with Chantilly frosting on top.

9. Shave Ice
The Hawaiian's take on a "snow cone." Just don't be caught calling it a snow cone. Ever. And be sure to casually forget the "D" at the end of "Shaved." Head to the north shore to historic Haleiwa town and get in line for Matsumoto's Shave Ice. They're the best on the island, for good reason. There are tons of different flavors you can choose from, not to mention the options to add ice cream underneath or condensed milk, azuki beans, mochi, or li hing mui on top. I say always get it with ice cream.

10. Sushi
If this one wasn't obvious, I don't know what would've been. On an island in the pacific, surrounded by the ocean and fresh fish, how could you not try sushi? You'll be amazed at how fresh the raw fish is there. And, once again, with all the influences Hawaii gets from Japanese culture, you know it'll be delicious.

Honorable mentions:
-Kalua Pork
-KBBQ Plate Lunch
-Loco Moco
-Macadamia Nut Pancakes

Want a closer look at some of these dishes? Watch my video:

Have you ever been to Hawaii? What was your favorite thing to eat there?

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