What Kind of Food Do They Eat at Hawaii?

by Susanna Lo

What Kind of Food Do They Eat at Hawaii?

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When you're visiting Hawaii, don't ask people what type of food they eat. Ask the locals, or Kamaainas, where to find some "Local Kine Grinds." The most common dishes from the Hawaiian culture involve pork and fish. Ask for some Lau Lau or Kalua Pig or a plate of Pipikaula if you like pork. Eat Ahi Poke or Opakapaka if you like fish. Then end the meal with an exotic fruit dessert like Haupia.

Pork Dishes

Everyone who has been to Hawaii is familiar with the luau and the Hawaiian style of roasting a full pig underground using hot lava rocks. The end result is called Kalua Pig, a juicy, melt in your mouth, pulled-pork slice of heaven. Another Hawaiian pork delicacy is the Lau Lau, a pork butt, stuffed with salt fish, wrapped in luau and ti leafs, then steamed. The pork is so soft and tender, you don't have to chew.

Fish Dishes

You can't visit Hawaii and miss out on their unique fish dishes. Every Kamaaina will tell you, Ahi Poke is a must have at all family gatherings. Ahi is raw, Grade A tuna and "Poke" means to dice. The sashimi quality tuna is diced up and soy sauce, chili flakes, green onions and limu (fresh seaweed) are all mixed in with a dash of sesame oil. If you need your fish cooked, have Opakapaka, a Hawaiian pink snapper that is usually steamed with ginger, garlic and onion.

Fruits and Desserts

Hawaii has some of the best tasting tropical fruits from sweet mangoes to ripe pineapples. Have a fresh, young coconut and you may never buy canned juice again. Three cracks on the top with the blunt end of a butcher knife will open the shell, then drink it like the juice of the Hawaiian gods. A famous dessert made from coconuts is Haupia, a cross between Jell-O and pudding dense with the aroma of coconut.

Vegetarian Options

Hawaii is not the place to stick to your vegetarian diet as you will miss out on a lot of good food and the true culture. But if you must, the main starch staple for natives is Poi. This is a soft, purple paste made from pounded taro roots and has a bit of a sour taste to it. It's considered one of the most nutritious starches and frequently fed to Hawaiian babies.

Plate Lunch

Back to the term, "Local Kine Grinds." The quintessential Hawaii fast food lunch is simply referred to as Plate Lunch. Step into any drive-through stand and ask for the Loco Moco, two scoops of rice, two scoops of macaroni salad, a big, greasy hamburger patty, a fried egg and a mound of thick, brown gravy.

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About the Author

Susanna Lo is an established writer, director and producer who won awards in The Berlin and Montreal film festivals. She is a member of PEN and WGA. Her parents worked for the airline and hotel industries and she's been traveling since infancy. Lo has lived in Europe, Asia, South America and North America and speaks five languages. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.