Best Hawaiian Foods To Try

The Aloha State delights travelers with its stunning landscapes, red sandy beaches, romantic sunsets, fascinating culture and quirky, tropical cuisine. Most vacationers don’t know that Hawaii is a true food lover’s heaven, owing to its remarkable culinary diversity. The local food culture is a melting pot of diverse cultural experiences, blending traditional Hawaiian cuisine with immigrant influences. 

Before Captain James Cook and the Europeans arrived at Hawaiian shores, the local cuisine consisted of pit-cooked pork and raw fish varieties. The arrival of immigrants from far-flung corners of the world resulted in a multicultural cuisine with varying cultural influences. Modern-day Hawaiian food amalgamates the island’s tropical ingredients blended with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Latin American and European recipes. 

Read on to explore some of the best Hawaiian foods that carry the flavorful essence of the island’s traditional cuisine. 

Huli Huli Chicken 

Best Hawaiian Foods To Try 

A delectable treat for grilling enthusiasts, the Huli Huli chicken is grilled over mesquite wood, twisted, and turned until perfectly seared. The name “Huli Huli” stems from the Hawaiian word huli, meaning turned, and the grilling technique. This chicken dish is barbecued over an open fire, constantly turned to avoid burning the meat. 

Suppose you want to experience tropical Hawaiian flavors in a savory palette that blends sweet and spicy ingredients with masterful aplomb. In that case, this chicken dish is an absolute winner. The traditional Huli Huli sauce is a mouthwatering concoction prepared with a pineapple marinade and heaps of garlic and ginger. 

Ginger and garlic balance out the sweetness of pineapple with a spicy tinge and warmth. You can easily follow the Huli Huli chicken recipe to create this crowd-pleasing dish for your summertime BBQs and dinner parties. If you don’t like cooking on an open fire, you can use a BBQ grill or pan-sear the chicken until perfectly done. 

Getting the pineapple glaze right is important because it infuses the chicken with a sweet and savory tropical flavor. It’s a sticky marinade that has a sweet and spicy blend with a smoky finish. Without the sauce, the chicken is just your average recipe for simple rotisserie chicken. But once you nail the sauce, its tropical tanginess completely transforms the chicken into a mind-blowing delicacy. 


One of the highlightings of Hawaiian street food, Poke, is the ultimate dish to discover the true essence of the island’s cuisine. The locals adore Poke, a daily staple served on festive occasions. 

Poke is a Hawaiian rendition of a raw seafood salad featuring fish, octopus, and other seafood varieties. This simple yet flavor-packed dish offers chunky seafood garnished with ginger, seaweed, sea salt, and soy sauce. Authentic Hawaiian Poke is bold and savory, prepared with the thickest sections of octopus. Contemporary renditions of the dish include more ingredients adopted from other cultures, such as tofu, onions, and roasted nuts. 


Saimin is a traditional Hawaiian rendition of a sumptuous Chinese egg noodle soup – a delicacy introduced during the plantation era. The advent of Chinese immigrants enriched the islands’ cuisine with a multitude of Asian delicacies and culinary traditions. Saimin is hands down the best pick to experience Hawaiian foods inspired by Chinese and Japanese cuisine. 

You can enjoy Saimin with various ingredients and cultural influences, such as onions, kimchi, kamaboko, and sausage. This egg noodle soup is prepared with wheat egg noodles that dissolve in your mouth with a burst of flavor. The taste profile is quite similar to Japanese miso soup. Still, some renditions have a Korean influence with spicy ingredients, like kimchi. 

The best rendition of Saimin is prepared with diced onions, kamaboko, eggs, shredded seaweed, preferably nori, and spam. 

Acai Bowls

Best Hawaiian Foods To Try

While acai bowls are a Brazilian delicacy, they are an excellent way to experience the tropical goodness of the Hawaiian Islands. This sweet and refreshing yogurt-based treat is loaded with Hawaii’s tropical fruits – ideal for a hearty and healthy breakfast. 

Acai bowls are served everywhere in Hawaii, from elegant fine dining venues and trendy eateries to street food joints and breakfast spots. The bowl is prepared with flavored yogurt and decorated with fresh, locally grown fruits, crunchy nuts and seeds. We strongly recommend a bowl loaded with acai berries, pineapple, almonds and peanut butter. 

Luau Stew

Traditionally prepared with beef briskets, coconut milk and spicy herbs, Luau stew is Hawaii’s ultimate comfort food. This dish packs up an exciting punch of flavors and ingredients to delight the taste buds without overwhelming the gut. 

Hawaiians prepare Luau stew with a variety of ingredients, including ginger, kalo leaves, onions and seaweed. The kalo leaves version is considered the tastiest, for the leaves dissolve in the mouth with a comforting burst of savoriness. The ingredients are tenderized to create that addictive melt-in-your-mouth softness that makes this dish special. 

Luau stew is seasoned with a variety of herbs, seaweed and sea salt. Meat lovers can try the renditions prepared with beef brisket or pork.  

Final Thoughts 

Hawaiian cuisine is full of multicultural surprises and delightful tropical flavors that are incredibly easy to recreate. Hawaiian cuisine has much to offer if you’re eager to discover new seafood ingredients and simple but decadent culinary traditions. Whether traveling through the islands or experimenting with recipes at home, these dishes are simple and easy to recreate. Adding these delicacies to your weekly menu will increase your nutrient intake and satisfy your taste buds. 

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