Are you currently planning a trip to Oahu/Honolulu, Hawaii? If you are and only have a few days or a week to try all the foodie goodness Oahu has to offer, look no further! Below is a guide to the top food items to try when visiting Oahu/Honolulu!
This should be a no brainer. If you go to Hawaii, you MUST try their authentic poke (fish salad) as it is essential to the Hawaiian cuisine. There are many flavours to choose from and they’re offered at local grocery stores, local Costcos, and at many mom and pop shops.
My favourite poke shop is called Ono Seafood (full blog post on it here) and they are a no frills, mom and pop shop that serves the most authentic and delicious poke I’ve ever had. Even though tons of tourists and locals frequent this joint, it’s located in a somewhat secluded area so I would recommend driving here if you can.
2. Shaved Ice
Since the weather is incredibly hot most days of the year, the best way to cool off is with some shaved ice. They have perfected this dessert and again, it can be found almost anywhere. The one I got was a Mango Shaved Ice with light mochi (glutinous rice dumplings) and mango popping pearls.
3. Acai Bowl
Acai Bowls are also known as Acai na Tigela which essentially means “Acai in a Bowl”. It’s a Brazilian dish made of mashed and frozen acai fruit topped with various fruits, nuts, and toppings. Since it’s so hot in Hawaii, many locals and tourists also turn to this antioxidant rich dessert to cool down as an alternative to unhealthy ice cream and sugary shaved ice. I got my simple acai bowl from Eggs N’ Things (full blog post on it here).
4. Garlic Shrimp
If you’re staying in Honolulu for more than a few days, I’d highly recommend using one day to rent a car and drive to North Shore to get some of the best garlic shrimp you’ll ever have. These Hawaiian style garlic shrimp with rice are served out of food trucks that are all situated in a pod between Hale’iwa and Kahuku. Once you see an endless line up of people and dozens of cars parked in a weird little roadside knoll, you’ll know you’re there.
The garlic shrimp was so good, my boyfriend and I drove all the way here on two separate occasions and tried two different trucks. The most famous truck is called Giovanni’s but I really don’t think you need to line up extra long for their shrimp. All of the other shrimp trucks (including the Korean truck next to Giovanni’s called Honos) were just as good if not better!!
5. Hula Dog
When I saw Hula Dog spotlighted on one of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episodes, I knew I had to try it when I visited Hawaii. This hot dog may looks sightly odd (and even a bit phallic), but trust me, it tastes a lot better than it looks. First off, these buns have a hollow center, which means they can just slide the whole weiner into the bun with the sauces all nicely intact and contained. Second of all, the bun I got was bacon and taro! How cool of a flavour is that?! Last but not least, the most unique thing about the Hula Dog are their Hawaiian sauces. From Star Fruit Relish to Guava Mustard, the combination of sweet, tangy, and tropical is really unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in North America. Highly recommend.
Here is their menu so you can get mentally prepared before going. 🙂
Musubi is without a doubt one of the things you HAVE to get when visiting Hawaii. The Hawaiian cuisine centers around spam, so what better way of eating their national food than to eat it in a form of a musubi? 🙂 In one quick sentence, Musubi is essentially a slice of spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped in seaweed. There are many variations of musubi to keep it interesting. For example, I got mine with avocado and bacon, and there are many other variations that feature other ingredients like egg, cucumber, and even unagi. I would recommend checking out the Musubi Cafe Iyasume located in Waikiki.
7. Dole Whip
Even if you are not into the typical tourist attractions, I would still suggest paying a visit to the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa. There you can get a whole bunch of overpriced but unique pineapple merch, get lost in the Pineapple Garden Maze (surprisingly it was really fun!), ride their Pineapple Express Train Tour, and eat lots of delicious Dole Whip.
Their dole whip is also very overpriced but it is worth every penny if you have never had dole whip before (Creamy Pineapple Ice-Cream) or it’s super hot outside.
8. Loco Moco
Loco Moco is a meal in the contemporary cuisine in Hawaii and usually consists of white rice, beef patty, an egg, and brown gravy. Nowadays, you can find many variations of this dish involving spam, chili, pork, kalua pork, shrimp, teriyaki chicken, and more. Hawaiian cuisine is always about comfort and Loco Moco doesn’t get any more comforting than that.
9. Udon (from Marukame Udon)
This last food item you MUST eat in Hawaii is really a food item you must eat AT a very specific restaurant. Marukame Udon. With so many Japanese immigrants in Hawaii, its no question that Japanese cuisine prevails among all types of international cuisines in Hawaii. Marukame Udon is a specialty udon noodle shop in Waikiki that serves up one of the best udons I’ve ever tasted. In my short 7 day trip in Oahu, I ate at Marukame 3 times. That is how much I loved this place. To read my full post on Marukame Udon, click here.
Thanks for reading and I hope you will use this as your guide to eat your way around Oahu, Hawaii!!