Now that we’ve gotten the desserts out of the way, it’s time to focus on the savory side of Hawaiian food. And believe me, Hawaii has plenty of foods you’re going to want to fit in on your vacation. There are almost too many to fit in on one trip!
We’re just going to have to back it seems.
(My husband has informed me that is not a good enough reason to plan a trip to Hawaii. I disagree)
Not just for lunch, these plates are a staple in Hawaii. The basics are: Meat, 2 scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. Every place has its own options for meat, but typical staples are teriyaki chicken and kalua pork.
One of our favorite places for it, which was recommended by a local, is L&L’s Hawaiian Barbecue. While there are locations all over the islands (and some on mainland!), once you step in it’ll give you that local hole in the wall feel.
I’d recommend trying a mix plate, so you can taste a few different ones, but the chicken katsu is very good too! Which leads me to my favorite part of the plate lunches…
Yes, mac salad deserves an entry all on its own. If you’ve never had Hawaiian mac salad before, you’re probably thinking of that dish that shows up at almost every pot luck, with veggies, cheese, pasta, sauce, etc.
That mac salad has nothing on Hawaiian mac salad. It really is a breed all on its own. Each place has their own recipe, but the best we had was found at Kiani’s Original Guava Chicken (their guava chicken is also a tasty combination). The location we visited was on Schofield Barracks, but it looks like they might show up at the swap meet sometimes in Honolulu too!
This is one of those recipes I need to figure out how to perfect at home, if you have a favorite recipe for it please let me know!
Tuna Poke Bowl
If you’re squeamish around raw fish, you might want to skip this one. If not, it’s definitely worth a try!
While not my favorite of the foods listed here, it was a really unique experience, and it did have some delicious flavors. I tried mine at the ___ food truck on North Shore and it had a fun blend of crunchy spicyness.
You can find them all over the Islands, and each place tries a bit different mix ins to spice it up, but most tend to have an asian flair.
This one is another common part of a plate lunch that deserves its own mention. It’s nestled in between the chicken and fish on the bottom left of that photo. We had our first Kalua Pork at Chief’s Luau and it was delicious. Very much so our favorite part of the buffet at the luau, it was sooo moist, we couldn’t get enough.
You’ll find this one all over the island. It’s in plate lunches, on its own, on burgers, we even had some on fries and covered in melted cheese!
This one my husband is determined to figure out how to make. He is a total sucker for pork and it was probably his favorite food on our vacation.
If the name isn’t enough to get you interested, here’s what a Loco Moco is: rice topped with a hamburger patty, gravy and finished off with a fried egg. Some places like to dress it up a little, while others just toss it in the container.
Most places though, it’s not a very pretty dish, but it is delicious! The one I got from the Hale Koa hotel could have used an extra egg or two, but some places make it with 2 eggs. If wherever you stop for one doesn’t, add an egg, it’s worth it.
For some reason I thought this meal would need something extra, like soy sauce, but I was happily surprised that it didn’t. It’s just comfort food layered in more comfort food, and it’s a nice warm happy bowl of tastiness.
There are plenty of other Hawaiian foods to try too. Things like poi and spam musubi, but these are the ones that we loved from our trip. Maybe next time we’ll try more and I’ll be able to add to this list, but for now if you’re visiting Hawaii you won’t be disappointed trying these!
Unless you hate raw fish. Or are a vegetarian.
If so, woops! Sorry!
More on our Hawaiian Adventure:
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