Hawaiian Culture: Local Dishes You Must Try

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and relaxed atmosphere. But did you know Hawaiian food is some of the best in the world? Local dishes are a must-try for any visitor or resident of Hawaii. This article will discuss some of the most popular local dishes and where you can find them. Aloha!

A Rich History Of Hawaiian Cuisine


Hawaii’s culture and cuisine are shaped by a rich history, with influences from all over the world. Its multi-ethnic approach to food has seen it develop distinctly unique recipes, incorporating flavors from Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea, Portugal, and other island nations. 

Local dishes mix traditional elements such as taro leaves with pork and various spices while featuring more modern American-style dishes. The traditional diet consists mostly of fish, vegetables, and locally grown fruits like pineapple and papaya. Despite its tropical location, Hawaiian cuisine still boils down to respect for family tradition – something that persists even today in this special part of the world.

Hawaiian Culture: Local Dishes You Must Try

Now that you know a bit about the history of Hawaiian cuisine, let’s take a look at some of the most popular local dishes you’ll find in Hawaii.



When visiting Hawaii, sampling the local cuisine is a must. One of the most beloved Hawaiian dishes is Poke – a simple delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries. The traditional components of poke are raw fish, seaweed, sea salt, and various spices. While preserved in its traditional state, variations of poke have also been developed with different ingredients, such as onions and other vegetables.

The distinctly balanced flavors make it undeniably delicious, making poke one of the most popular dishes among locals and visitors. Whether at a restaurant or purchased from one of Hawaii’s many farmer’s markets, any foodie is sure to want to try this incredibly delightful dish!



For Hawaiians, manapua is a must-try delicacy with an interesting history. Traditionally served at gatherings, birthdays, and family celebrations, the small, square buns are usually stuffed with savory pork and sometimes chicken or vegetables. This comforting dish was introduced by Chinese immigrants over 150 years ago and has become a beloved staple in the Hawaiian culture.

The steamed buns are fluffy yet thick enough to hold their savory and sweet filling, making for an unforgettable bite that is truly unique to Hawaii. Manapua brings out the local flavors of Hawaii better than any other snack can, making it a “must-have” on any Hawaiian island food journey.

Fish Tacos


Fish tacos have become a delicious, familiar staple of Hawaiian culture. A traditional dish that originated from the North Western region of Mexico, Hawaii has adopted it and made it unique. Every islander has their favorite version of fish tacos, from the type of fish to the toppings they add.

At family gatherings, beach days, or local events, you’ll find a food truck showcasing different styles of fish tacos. The combination of fresh ingredients and bold flavors is not to be missed when visiting the islands. Fish tacos are a must-try if you’re hoping to sample some local flavor and get an authentic taste of Hawaiian culture.



When it comes to delicious local dishes in Hawaiian cultures, Saimin is a must-try. This dish was originally brought to Hawaii by Chinese and Japanese immigrants and has since evolved into something unique to the area thanks to local ingredients and techniques.

Featuring ramen-style egg noodles in a warm broth filled with shrimp, pork or beef, fishcakes, diced carrot, and detached pieces of Spam, this tasty meal is a favorite among both tourists and locals alike. The comforting flavors are sure to have you coming back for more!

Huli Huli Chicken


Embracing both traditional and modern influences, Hawaiian culture comes alive through local cuisine. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Huli Huli Chicken. This dish is a classic, go-to comfort food for many locals. Starting with marinated chicken that’s savory and sweet in equal measure, it’s then grilled over kiawe wood, a type of mesquite found throughout Hawaii, infusing the chicken with an intoxicating smokiness. It’s traditionally served with two scoops of white rice and macaroni salad, making it an absolute treat!

Usually layered with jasmine or ogo seaweed and shoyu (soy sauce), the flavors blend to create something unique to the islands. Regardless of where you are across the Aloha State, sampling some Huli Huli Chicken should be high on your list – you won’t be disappointed!

Loco Moco


Hawaiian culture is so deeply entwined with food. Loco Moco has become a staple of Hawaiian cuisine and is often the dish that locals point visitors to when talking about traditional local dishes. It consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, smothered in a rich brown gravy, and usually served with a fried egg.

The combinations might sound odd, but it’s just one of those special dishes that must be tried to truly understand it. This classic Hawaiian dish isn’t merely an Instagram-worthy option; its unique textures and flavors will light your taste buds up! A true hit among locals, there’s not enough that can be said about the experience of trying the real Loco Moco.



Hawaii is a unique culture that captivates its visitors through its vibrant and exciting food. Local dishes in Hawaii are plentiful, but one delicious treat stands out – malasadas! This fried doughy snack from Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii has since become an enduring classic dish on the islands. Malasadas can come in many flavors, ranging from simple sugared or cinnamon-coated doughnuts to decadent options like custard-filled flavors.

No matter what flavor you try, the warm crunchy exterior combined with luscious creamy filling provides the perfect combination of textures that make this dessert stand apart. So if you’re ever visiting Hawaii and want to experience the fullness of the local food scene, don’t miss out on trying some malasadas!

Hawaiian Shave Ice


Hawaiian culture is a unique mix of many different influences, and nowhere is this more evident than in the delicious local dishes you can find around the islands. A particular favorite among locals and tourists is shave ice – a delightful twist on a traditional dessert. This treat features blocks of ice combined with flavoring, condensed milk, fruits, and other toppings for that extra crunch.

Perfect for hot sunny weather, shave ice is often found at pop-up stands or mobile vendors, as well as restaurants giving it an added feeling of authenticity. One thing’s certain; when visiting the Hawaiian Islands, don’t miss out on this tasty, iconic cultural tradition!

These Are The Popular Hawaiian Dishes You NEED To Try If You Visit!

In conclusion, there are many popular local dishes in Hawaii that you will want to try. Whether it’s Huli Huli Chicken, Loco Moco, Malasadas, or Shave Ice, each one offers a unique and delicious take on traditional favorites. So if you’re planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, sample these must-try local dishes to fully experience the best Hawaiian culture has to offer!

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