Delicious Hawaiian Foods and what should you eat on the islands now?

Delicious Hawaiian foods made up of multi-cultural, Polynesian and ethnic foods from ancient Hawaiian, plantation days to the current Hawaiian regional cuisine is all wrapped up into what we call local foods of Hawaii.

Eating your way through Hawaii is one of the most enjoyable parts to visiting the islands, but you may wonder what really are the foods of Hawaii? Check out the details, history and some inspired reading on what Hawaiian food to eat and try on the islands when you visit.

What Hawaiian Foods should you eat on the islands now

History of Food and eating in Hawaii

Foods of Hawaii does cover a wide range of history and eating on the islands starting with the original settlers to the islands with the Polynesians bringing over their canoe plants (over 30 different plants) and creating food from the land, fishing and living healthy on the islands. The ancient Hawaiians planted coconuts, sweet potatoes and yams, sugar cane, grew their staple taro for poi, fished and raised meat that they cooked in earthen ovens in the ground. You can see that eating most of the traditional Hawaiian foods here covers very simple food with local ingredients used along with spices grown on the islands. Popular Hawaiian dishes includes Hawaiian Poke, Lau Lau, Kalua Pork, Poi, purple sweet potato, baked breadfruit, Pipi Kaula and fresh Opihi harvested and clinging to slippery rocks in the ocean. The staples of Hawaiian traditional food are simple, hearty and nutritious food that fed the Hawaiian people and now all locals and visitors want to eat some of the good local food here.

History of Food and eating in Hawaii

Mission era foods

Missionaries from the east coast of the United States brought their own dishes and preserved foods like salted fish which was incorporated into the Hawaiian food palate to lomi-lomi salmon as a side dish to be included into a favorite Hawaiian style dish that makes it as a traditional food.

Plantation era farmers and their foods

Plantation era farmers and their foods

When the first immigrants came to the islands to work in the plantation fields, lunch time was a delicious affair with everyone sharing their food in a potluck type of local gathering at lunch time and other gatherings at the end of day. Everyone loves Hawaiian comfort foods and all of these favorite dishes were passed down from families and shared at so many different events and gatherings.

This covers the gamut of international flavors from the early plantation days and workers with  Pasteles from Puerto Rico, Chicken Long Rice from China, Adobe Chicken from the Philippines, Hot Saimin from China, sweet breads from Portugal, tempura chicken or beef and Japanese bento food. All of these delicious foods have found their way into the Hawaiian food palate and mixed plate appeal so popular on all the islands.

Popular Hawaiian food favorites from the Islands

Popular Hawaiian food favorites from the Islands

From all of these traditional and plantation era food mixed into a blend of good eats into a local style of popular Hawaiian foods evolved with easy takeout food, bento boxes and mixed plate specials became a go to for locals always hungry and looking or delicious food. This included popular favorite dishes like plate lunch, Loco Moco, Hawaiian Mac salad, Lumpia, Manapua, Spam Musubi, Lomi Salmon, Hawaiian short ribs and Huli Huli Chicken.

It’s all delicious and available at many take out venues, grocery stores and mom and pop outlets all around the islands for quick and easy food to eat Hawaiian style.

Hawaiian Regional Cuisine

Hawaiian Regional Cuisine

12 Talented chefs incorporated all these local dishes into a variety of fusion style dishes in their menu started in 1992 to develop into a Hawaiian Regional cuisine and incorporates locally grown ingredients, fresh seafood, meats and other products direct from local growers and farmers in the area. This focus on local ingredients and fresh from the farm was originally a concept of forward thinking chefs on the island even before the concept of “Farm to Table” became a major buzz word in the foodie world. These locally sourced ingredients inspired some of the top chefs in popular restaurants and hotels to create beautifully executed food and presentation that created a real buzz in the Hawaii food scene and still does today.

The fusion style and Hawaiian cuisine that is prevalent today around the various islands is what excites visitors to discover the delicious flavors of this Hawaiian regional cuisine. You will find all the major high-end restaurants and hotels coming up with their own riff to innovative or island inspired flavors that help create and foster the food trends and direction of eating well on the islands.

It’s not surprising that the new Hawaiian Regional Cuisine originated from all the multi-cultural and food influences around the islands with local growers and ranchers being supported by the food industry in a healthy and symbiotic relationship. New chefs coming to the islands are also inspired by all the fresh ingredients, quality and variety of food ingredients to create new and inventive flavor profiles and exciting presentations to Hawaiian food.

Hawaiian Snacks

Hawaiian Snacks

Everyone on the islands love to snack in between meals and Hawaiian snacks cover the gamut from sweet, salty, tangy to overall savory foods that will tie you over to the main meals or just Hawaiian appetizers on their own for a pupu gathering.

Popular favorite snack foods include sweet mochi desserts, Taro Chips, Manapua, spam musubi, Japanese arare crackers, Hawaii sushi or poke and all the Hawaiian snack favorites here to try.

Hawaiian Desserts

Hawaiian Desserts

It appears that all local people love Hawaiian desserts and will always leave a little extra space in their tummy for somethings sweet to eat after a good meal. Popular favorites to try here includes: Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie or just simple haupia, shave ice, mochi, Kulolo and so many other delicious Hawaiian desserts here.

Hawaiian Style Barbeque

Hawaiian Style Barbeque

Hawaii barbeque is big on the islands and everything from chicken, meat, fish and seafood is tasty when it is barbequed and served fresh on the islands. Starting with the smoky and flavorful huli huli chicken, simple bbq Chicken, beef or seafood on the grill or ethnic flavored bbq.  Hawaiian style bbq covers the gamut that everyone loves with different variations and sauces from sweet, garlicky, vinegar and sour or spicy you’ll find on the islands.  Check out these delicious inspired bbq recipes below.

Hawaiian food recipes and delicious barbeques

Maui rib style

Huli Huli pork ribs

Hawaiian BBQ recipe

Hawaiian style short ribs

Garlic Shrimp ala Giovanni’s Hawaiian style shrimp

Check out these other delicious Hawaiian inspired food topics

Locals love these tasty Hawaiian snacks

Popular Hawaiian dishes you need to try

Try some Poi in your diet

Traditional Hawaiian food favorite dishes

Comfort foods of Hawaii

Delicious Hawaiian tropical fruits

Try some Loco Moco

All about Poke

Hawaiian Spam and recipes

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

Hawaiian style banana bread

Farmers markets in Hawaii

Avocado season in Hawaii

Mango season in Hawaii

Pineapple season in Hawaii

Taste fresh lychees in season

Conclusion on Hawaiian Foods

Are you hungry for Hawaiian Food?

So, this is the whole gamut of different types of Hawaiian foods to eat on the island from more traditional Hawaiian food, plantation era comfort foods and into the new Hawaiian Regional Cuisine that is popular at many fine dining restaurants on the islands.

You can always have a great meal with all the delicious flavors of the islands from something as simple as a mixed plate lunch to a five-star dining experience at a very expensive restaurant in Hawaii.

Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Hawaiian Food. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy the amazing cuisine of Hawaii. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.