Unique Food to Hawaii: When you come to Hawaii make sure you try out Hawaiian food. It is as special to Hawaii as Luaus and Pineapples. We have prepared a guide for you to help you navigate the amazing unique local dishes.
Made from the Taro plant, Poi is a staple food in Hawaii. Poi is a pale purple color and has a very distinct, delicate flavor. When it is first made, it is sweeter, but many locals prefer to eat it days later when it ferments and becomes sour. Poi is best with Lomi Salmon or Kalua Pork.
When most people think of a traditional Hawaiian dish, they immediately think of Kalua Pork. Real Kalua Pork it is made in a imu, an underground oven, and cooked for hours. It is delicious! You can try it at any Luau on the island but one of the best places to get it is Helena’s Hawaiian Food.
Lomi-Lomi is Hawaiian for “to massage” or “to soothe”. Maybe this is why Lomi Salmon is so delicious. This side dish is made with diced tomatoes, fresh salmon, sweet Maui onions, and occasionally, red chili pepper flakes.
When you visit Hawaii you must try haupia. Haupia is a coconut flavored dessert that technically is a custard but looks more like a gelatin. It’s sweet with a creamy texture that comes from marrying coconut milk and pia (arrowroot). It’s the perfect ending to a Hawaiian meal.
Pronounced poʊˈkeɪ, Poke is in its simplest form a fish salad. Originally made by fisherman who would cut off cubes of their catch, this snack is a local favorite and has recently found fame around the world. It can be made from ahi (Tuna), he’e or tako (octopus), salmon, or even tofu, and is mixed with soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. The variations of Poke are endless! Some of the best ones are even made with limu (seaweed).
Check out Nico’s Pier 38 for ono (delicious) Poke. It’s along the Purple Line: Pearl Harbor Sightseeing Tour at the Pier 38 Fishing Village stop.
Pronounced ah-Va, also known throughout the Pacific and mainland as Kava. Ancient Hawaiians ceremoniously used the root from the ‘Awa plant, they would either eat the root or mash it down to a paste and add water. It’s known to bring a state of relaxation. Today many people drink it to calm anxiety. You can try it at Da Cove on Monsarrat Ave on the Green Line. Learn more about it on a recent blog from Rolling Stone Magazine.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
You can try Poi, Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon, and Haupia at Helena’s Hawaiian Food and at Highway Inn. Helena’s Hawaiian Food is located in Honolulu in the Kalihi neighborhood. They are locally owned and operated. Helena’s is easy to access from the Waikiki Trolley’s new Red Line. At the Bishop Museum stop, get off the Waikiki Trolley and walk North-East a city block, take a right at School Street and two city blocks down is Helena’s Hawaiian.
Highway Inn is also off the Waikiki Trolley’s Red Line. Exit at SALT at out Kaka’ako and head to the front of the complex, just off Ala Moana Boulevard. Highway Inn has been locally owned and operated since 1947 and continues dishing out traditional meals all over Hawaii.
Check them out at the Kaka’ako location, or at the Bishop Museum.
Insider Tip: There is a discount for the Bishop Museum in the Map Guide!