Hawaii Local Grinds: 10 Must-try Munchies Other Than Poke
Nowadays, when we think of Hawaiian Local Grinds, we inadvertently think of Poke (Hawaiian raw fish bowl). However, there are so many mouth-watering dishes you have to have when staying in the islands. Here are 10 Must-try Munchies in Hawaii that will make you exclaim in delight, or as they say in Hawaii, “Ono!”
1. Loco Moco at Cafe 100
It’s the ultimate comfort food, especially for surfers who’ve spent the day out at sea. Traditional Loco Moco features white rice with a hamburger patty and a fried egg drenched in a thick brown gravy. These days you can add much more ingredients into it, such as spam, chicken, fish and vegetables. You can find it in your typical greasy spoon across Hawaii, but Cafe 100 in Hilo is one of the crowd favourites for this dish. Be sure to check out this self-proclaimed Home of the Loco Moco after a fun-filled day at the beach.
Address: 969 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 6.45AM-8.30PM; Sat, 645AM-7.30PM
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2. Spam Musubi at Musubi & Bento Iyasume
Musubi is pretty much sushi rice with a slab of protein, either fish, beef, or the Hawaiian classic, fried spam, wrapped in seaweed. It’s available in convenience stores and local eateries, but do make a trip down to Musubi & Bento Iyasume in Honolulu. They offer over 30 different flavours of musubi, from bacon, egg and spam to tuna with mayonnaise and spicy fried chicken! It opens at 7AM and closes at 9PM, so you can get your Musubi fix at any time of the day.
Address: 334 Seaside Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Opening Hours: 7AM-9PM
3. Malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery
A malasadas is a Portuguese donut, but instead of a hole, it’s piped full with creamy flavoured goodness that oozes out once you bite into it! Leonard’s Bakery has been dishing out these light and fluffy confections since 1953, and offers 3 main coatings, original sugar, cinnamon sugar, and Li Hing Plum powder, and 3 different fillings, custard, chocolate and coconut. Also, don’t miss out to ask what the Malasadas Flavour of The Month is and be pleasantly surprised by selections like guava and orange!
Address: 933 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu, 5.30AM-10PM; Fri-Sat, 5.30AM-11PM
4. Acai Bowl at Da Cove Health Bar & Cafe
An Acai Bowl is basically a nutritious fruit smoothie blend topped with an assortment of fruit, granola, seeds and honey. Different places serve a different mix of these, and Da Cove Health Bar & Cafe in Honolulu is definitely one place to get yourself a mean bowl of Acai. Their Acai bowls pack a punch as they use local honey and cinnamon-infused granola. They also do juices and savoury brunch items as well. It’s a great place to start the morning!
Address: 3045 Monsarrat Ave #5, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Opening Hours: Sat-Sun, 8am-7pm; Mon & Fri, 9am-7pm; Tue-Thu, 9am-10pm; *Serving ʻawa till 8pm
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5. Local Hawaiian Dishes at Helena’s Hawaiian Food
When in Hawaii, it’s a must to eat like the locals. A classic selection of Hawaiian dishes consists of Kalua Pig (pork slow-cooked in an underground oven), Pipikaula (dried beef), Lomi Salmon (raw salmon diced with tomatoes, onions and chilli peppers) and Poi (thick taro paste) served with a scoop of rice. Depending on what you feel like, you can mix and match the ingredients however you please. For a great place to start, check out James Beard Award-winning Helena's Hawaiian Food that has been the locals’ delight since 1946.
Address: 1240 N. School St.
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri, 10AM-7.30PM
6. Sweet Potato Chips at Taro Ko Farm
If you are driving there on your own, keep your eyes peeled! It’s easy to miss the Taro Ko Factory that’s just a tiny two-room outfit run by the farm’s sole owner and employee, Dale Nagamine. All the taro, sweet potato and potato chips are sliced, fried, baked, seasoned and packed by Dale himself. Many argue that these handmade chips are a cut above its mass-produced counterparts and are made fresh daily!
Address: 3940 Hanapepe Rd, Hanapepe, HI 96716, USA
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 10AM-6PM (Closes when chips sell out)
7. Shaved Ice at Matsumoto’s
Shaved ice is different in every country. The Hawaiian version features finely shaved ice soaked in colourful syrup. Matsumoto is probably the most well-known shaved ice shop in Hawaii. With a whopping 37 syrup flavours to choose from, you can opt for extra toppings like vanilla ice-cream, condensed milk, azuki beans and mochis for that added oomph!
Address: 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa
Opening Hours: 9AM-6PM
8. Manapua at Chun Wah Kam
Manapua is the Hawaiian version of the Char Siew Bao or steamed pork buns. Brought to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants in the 19th Century, it is that same pillowy soft bun stuffed with pork. It’s available in most Chinese restaurants in Hawaii. For something new, head down to Chun Wah Kam to try their 15 steamed manapua and 8 baked manapua varieties with fillings such as sweet potato, azuki beans, pork hash, Chinese sausage, Thai curry chicken, and, of course, Char Siew. They have several locations, including one in the heart of Honolulu. Keep a lookout on public holidays, they do feature bright-coloured manapua.
Address: 537 Pensacola Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 7.30AM-7PM; Sun, 7.30AM-4PM
9. Mixed Plate at Rainbow Drive-in
If you’re on a low-carb diet, look away! The Mixed Plate at Rainbow Drive-in is loved by locals for over 50 years. The barbeque beef, fish of the day, and tender fresh chicken is accompanied with two scoops of rice, and macaroni salad. It’s perfect if you want to try a bit of everything! The origins of this dish date back to the 1800s and still serves as a substantial and satisfying meal for young and old alike!
Address: 3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Opening Hours: 7AM-9PM
10. Saimin in Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Saimin is evidence to the mishmash of cultures in Hawaii. Developed during the island’s plantation era, it’s essentially a unique spin on the Chinese egg noodle soup, using Japanese Dashi as the broth. As more migrations followed, more ingredients have been thrown into the mix, ranging from Spam, Kimchi, Wontons, Portuguese sausage to name a few. Shiro’s Saimin Haven is certainly one of the places to try this Hawaiian staple, featuring 65 Saimin flavours to choose from. Their signature broth is still a secret! Although they have said that there is clam in it. I guess you just need to try it to make more deductions.
Address: 98-020 Kamehameha Hwy #109, Aiea, HI 96701, USA
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu, 7AM-10.30PM; Fri-Sat, 7AM-11.30PM
This post is brought to you by the Hawaii Tourism Board.