8 Under the Radar Foods to Try on the Island of Hawai’i

If you’re looking to try something new while on the island of Hawai’i, then you should check out some of the incredible local foods. So many different dishes are unique to the islands, and you’re sure to find something that will excite your taste buds! This post will cover some of the most delicious under-the-radar foods in Hawai’i. So if you’re looking for a culinary adventure, read on!

Where Does Hawaii Get Its Cuisine Influence?


Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures influencing its unique cuisine blend. The cuisine is primarily a combination of American, Pacific Islander, Polynesian and European influences. The original Hawaiian settlers brought Polynesian cooking, which included roots and other plants from the islands. They also used fish and seafood to make dishes like poke, Lomi-Lomi salmon, and poi. When the Chinese immigrants arrived in the mid-nineteenth century, they introduced their native dishes, such as dim sum and fried rice.

In the 1800s, plantation owners from Portugal brought Portuguese flavors such as sausage and bean soup, malasadas, and beef jerky. Additional European settlers also brought their flavors, including Italy’s pesto, German pretzels, and French omelets. As Hawaii continues to thrive in its culinary diversity, it remains clear that what this enchanting archipelago offers in beautiful landscapes, it equally offers in exquisite food!

Under the Radar Foods to Try In Hawaii

There is truly no shortage of delicious foods to try while in Hawaii! It can take a lot of work to highlight just a few. But still, a few should get discussed more! Here are a few of the under-the-radar foods to try in Hawaii:

Luau Stew


One dish that should be on the top of your list is Luau Stew. This traditional and beloved Hawaiian specialty combines taro, luau leaves, onions, kalua pig, and other compelling ingredients in a flavorful soup-like stew. The experience of savoring this incredible dish is like being in the middle of a celebration – a taste of Aloha! Luau Stew provides a nutritious meal that feels both authentically local and deliciously indulgent – what more could you ask for?

Eating this island specialty conveys genuine respect for Hawaiian culture and an appreciation for its unique flavors. So don’t miss out on this extraordinary culinary experience while visiting Hawaii – try some Luau Stew!

Lomi Lomi Salmon


Lomi Lomi Salmon is a quintessential part of the Hawaiian culinary tradition. It’s a unique dish that combines salted salmon, tomatoes, and onions with a flavorful dressing. This combining of ingredients has gone on in Hawaii for centuries and provides an incredible texture and taste experience to any diner. Every time you take a bite of Lomi Lomi Salmon, you honor the long-standing traditional cooking methods that inspire it. Not to mention, it’s incredibly healthy!

The combination of salmon, tomatoes, and onions makes this dish packed with essential vitamins and minerals. But even if health isn’t your number one priority, there’s no denying that the taste is unbeatable. Anyone visiting Hawaii should certainly give Lomi Lomi Salmon a try; it offers a fantastic meal and celebrates traditional Hawaiian culture.

Huli Huli Chicken


Huli Huli Chicken is one of the most popular dishes among all Hawaii residents and visitors. This dish originated in the 1950s on Oahu and is a marinated chicken grilled over an open flame. The complex blend of flavors with Hawaiian ginger, garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, and other spices gives it a taste that is both sweet and tangy. It’s a juicy, delicious alternative to traditional barbecue chicken, and it typically comes with yellow rice or steamed bok choy for a complete meal.

If you’re looking for a unique and tasty dish to try while in Hawaii, consider Huli Huli Chicken. It’s packed with flavor and has become an iconic part of the local cuisine. So why not take your tastebuds on an adventure and enjoy this delightful island favorite? You won’t be disappointed!

Lau Lau


Lua Lua dishes are indeed an unknown treasure in Hawaii. A perfect combination of land and sea offers something no other type of food can. With ingredients sourced from the islands, you’ll find flavor combinations that range from sweet and sour to spicy and savory. Freshness is key in Lua Lua; the fruits, vegetables, and seafood used have often been carefully picked daily by local fishermen or harvested on their farms.

Eating a Lua Lua dish provides a sense of connection to the local food culture in Hawaii. Not only that, but it also delivers flavor! So if you’re looking for a dish you won’t find anywhere else, check out the many amazing Lua Lua options in Hawaii. They’re truly something special!



Manapua, or char siu bao, is an underrated but undeniably delicious snack in Hawaii. Although it’s less known than the beloved Hawaiian favorite of spam musubi, manapua offers a unique and savory flavor among traditional Hawaiian treats. It’s a bun filled with various savory ingredients like pork, which makes it the perfect mid-day snack or a small meal. Even better—it’s inexpensive and always freshly made at local stores throughout Hawaii.

Manapua has been around since the 19th century when immigrants from China first began selling them on the islands. Today, you can find these little morsels all over Hawaii for a taste of authentic culture. So if you make your way to this part of the world, try manapua –you won’t regret it!



Quickly becoming a classic dish on the island of Hawaii, saimin is a soup-based noodle dish that often needs to be more appreciated by travelers. This nourishing dish is as unique as it is delicious. It contains boiled noodles served in a dashi broth made from kombu, bonito, and shiitake mushrooms, topped with sliced green onion, kamaboko (fishcake), char siu (Chinese pork), fish balls, and nori (dried seaweed).

Deceptively simple yet incredibly flavorful, saimin has found its way onto breakfast menus and late-night snack spots all around Hawaii due to its popularity throughout the archipelago. As a result, saimin stands out as an unappreciated but necessary addition to the culinary landscape of Hawaii.

Be Sure To Try These Under-The-Radar Foods On The Island Of Hawaii!

One of the best parts about visiting the island of Hawaii is getting the chance to try some of the fantastic under-the-radar foods you won’t find anywhere else! From the tangy, flavorful Huli Huli Chicken to the savory Luau Stew, endless delicious options are sure to delight your taste buds.

So whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a more substantial meal, these unique dishes are an essential part of experiencing local cuisine on the islands of Hawaii. So if you find yourself in the area, try some of these delicious and unique Hawaiian foods!

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