Traditional Hawaiian Cuisine
Take a smidge of Japanese, some Chinese, Filipino, Polynesian, a sprinkle of Portuguese and a dollop of American food origins and you'll end up with a plateful of something exotic, spicy, Hawaiian. Traditional dishes include the mouth-watering laulau chicken: a succulent breast of chicken (or sometimes a piece of pork) wrapped in a blanket of taro leaves which is steamed for a few hours. Once ready, the meat will melt like butter in your mouth with the taro leaves adding that extra punchy texture. Then there's the popular side dish, Lomi salmon (commonly known as 'lomi-lomi' because of that, in Hawaiian, means 'to massage' and that's exactly how it's prepared). It is a refreshing salmon salad, always served cold, and includes sliced tomatoes, onions, possibly some hot chili flakes. It's then massaged and mixed all together by hand before being served.
All this and more is available but where in Hawaii can you sample such delectable dishes I hear you ask? Helena's Hawaiian Food would be a great place to start. This restaurant, located at the Ward Farmers Market in the Honolulu/Ala Moana area, has been referred to as the Oscars of the food world. It's won awards for its quality of produce and overall quality of the restaurant. With a healthily illuminated-by-the-sun eating area and pristine white interior, you're sure to feel refreshed, happy and comfortable at Helena's restaurant.
Also located in the Honolulu area (specifically 3110 Winam Avenue) is the comforting, affordable, family owned and run Kapahulu Poi Shop. Serving all the traditional Hawaiian feasts such as poke (pronounced 'po-kay' and is another type of fishy side salad), Kalua pig and a cool, creamy chunk of haupia to finish. Haupia is like cheesecake, just without the biscuit underbelly. Essentially, it's coconut milk whipped into a soft, fluffy cube. Sometimes it's spread across the tops of wedding cakes. It's also a popular choice at luaus. But at the Kapahulu, it's the perfect way to quench a pulsating hot tongue after a heavily spiced platter of tender Hawaiian meats.
Another popular dish in Hawaii is Saimin, a noodle dish inspired by udon, mein, and pancit (three types of noodles from Japan, China, and the Philippines respectively). It's served in a hot stock called dashi, garnished with green onions, sliced Kamaboko (Japanese cured seafood), Char Sui (Chinese barbecued meat), sliced spam and other ingredients. The place to go for this specialty is Shige's Saimin Stand situated on Kukui Street in Central Oahu. It's a very popular place with locals and, therefore, highly recommended. Also serving gigantic burgers in thick, buttery buns, Shige's will warm up anyone who walks through the door, particularly in the colder weeks, with their unbridled love of drenching their Saimin in spice.
Hawaii's cuisine doesn't isn't just ham and pineapple pizzas. It goes way beyond that. The people of America's broken-off-from-the-mainland cousin love to indulge in the finest, most exotic and spicy ingredients, creating an assortment of flavorsome and aromatic dishes with global inspirations and origins.
About the Author
Guy Arnold, from leafy Hertfordshire, England, is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Specializing in poetry, and travel writing being a new passion, other interests include walking, rugby, and cycling!