Being born and raised in Hawai'i was amazing not just for the tropical weather, beautiful views, and wonderful people, but also because of the amazing food — what we like to call ~ono kine grindz~.
Here I've listed a few of my favorites. Unfortunately, I couldn't include them all, so if there's any that I missed and you feel strongly about it, please include them in the comments!
1. Hawaiian Acai Bowls
Acai bowls became really popular on the mainland a few years ago, but Hawaiian versions include coconut flakes, poi (pounded taro), pitaya (dragonfruit), guava, bee pollen, and always EXTRA honey. Yum.
2. Shave Ice
3. Poke Bowls
4. Tako Poke
5. Li Hing Mui on EVERYTHING
We Hawaiians like to sprinkle li hing mui (dry plum seed powder) on almost everything — fresh fruit, desserts, popcorn, cocktails, you name it.
6. Kalua Pig
This is our version of pulled pork — it's simple, easy to make, and tastes best with cabbage and two scoops of rice.
7. Lomi Lomi Salmon
Haupia — coconut milk-based dessert — is THE Hawaiian dessert and is absolutely to-die-for. Fun fact: You can buy Haupia pie from some McDonald's in Hawai'i.
9. POG (Passion Orange Guava) Juice
10. Loco Mocos
11. Liliko'i Butter
12. Guava Jelly
13. Poi Malasadas
14. Taro Sweet Bread Rolls
I love to pull them apart, cut them in half, butter them — sometimes with liliko'i or mango butter, stick them in the microwave, and eat them warm and gooey. Hell yes.
15. Bubbie's Mochi Ice Cream
16. Squid Luau
17. Spam Musubis
18. Hawaiian Sun Juice
19. Taro Chips
You can get taro chips everywhere. But I really love the taro chips from Hawaiian Chip Company, especially when they're paired with sizzling pipikaula dip the way it's served at Highway Inn.
20. Roselani's Ice Cream
Creamy, heavenly, ice cream and sherbets that comes in a bunch of local flavors like Haupia, Classic Macadamia Nut, and Kona Coffee.
21. Ted's Bakery Pies
Out-of-this-world pies, that are coated in whipped cream, come in delicious local flavors, and are made on the North Shore of O'ahu.
22. Zippy's Chili
Zippy's is our equivalent of Denny's and their chili is amazing, especially with a scoop (or two) of rice. Selling Zippy's chili tickets was how we used to fundraise for my brothers' baseball teams — but a lot of times we would just end up using them ourselves.
23. Chicken Long Rice
25. North Shore Shrimp Trucks
This Hawaiian taro dessert is a pudding-like treat made of taro, coconut, coconut milk, and sugar.
27. Maui Onion Potato Chips
Maui onions are sweet and tart and these kettle-cooked style chips capture all that amazing flavor.
28. Lau Lau
Another traditional Hawaiian dish, it's pork wrapped in luau leaves and steamed for hours until it's tender and falling apart. So ono with rice, lomi salmon, and squid luau.
29. Macadamia Nut Pancakes
30. Lihing Pickled Mango
It'll satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. All you need is green mango slices, white and apple cider vinegar, li hing mui seeds (salty dried plum seeds), Hawaiian salt, and sugar.
31. Macadamia Nut Candies
You've probably seen these because they're Hawaiians' go-to party favors and thank you-gifts. You can even buy some of the chocolate macadamia nuts in select Costcos now.