Hawaiian foods: taste the islands with lilikoi, guri guri and more

hawaiian food

Hawaiian regional food

Hawaii is the only state in the US that is entirely composed of islands.   Because of its geography, Hawaii is naturally known for its fresh seafood…Thanks for the poke craze, Hawaii (and btw, it’s pronounced POH-keh).   Other foods that instantly come to mind are macadamia nuts and pineapples.  However there are plenty of other, lesser-known foods that should be on your food radar including:

  • guri guri: a hybrid of sherbet and ice cream; made with guava juice, lime soda and condensed milk
  • haupia: a traditional dessert made of coconut milk-based custard often chilled and cut into cubes
  • lau lau: a native Hawaiian dish consisting of pork wrapped in taro or luau leaf
  • lilikoi: a tart fruit native to Hawaii and a popular ingredient in many Hawaiian foods & drinks; a.k.a. passionfruit
  • loco moco: a contemporary dish made of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy
  • malasadas: Portuguese doughnuts popularized in Hawaii; these egg-sized “donut holes” are sometimes filled with various flavors like haupia, guava, chocolate or custard
  • manapua: meat-filled buns influenced by Chinese bao (steamed filled buns)
  • manju: Hawaiian manju is a flakier pastry version of Japanese manju; it has a flaky outer crust filled with a sweet red bean paste
  • poi: a purplish paste made from mashed taro root
  • saimin: a noodle soup dish inspired by Japanese ramen, Chinese mein, and Filipino pancit
  • shave ice (yes, it’s “shave” ice and not “shaved” ice): a dessert made from shaved blocks of ice topped with flavored syrups, condensed milk, sweet bean paste and ice cream; inspired by Japanese kakigōri
  • spam musubi: a version of sushi that uses spam instead of raw fish

Where can I get it?   

When you’re visiting the islands of Hawaii, you’ll definitely want to queue up these places to get a true authentic taste of these regional foods…

guri guri in Kahului, Maui: Tasaka Guri Guri Shop

guri guri hawaiian food

liliko’i crème brulee in Paia, Maui:
Mama’s Fish House

mama's fish house lilikoi creme brulee maui

malasadas in Honolulu, Oahu: Leonard’s Bakery

malasadas hawaiian food leonard's bakery
photo: Leonard’s Bakery on Facebook

haupia in Honolulu, Oahu: Helena’s Hawaiian Food

photo: Helena’s Hawaiian Food on Instagram

loco moco in Hilo, Hawaii: Cafe 100

loco moce cafe 100
photo: Cafe 100 on Facebook

spam musubi in Kahului, Maui: Da Kitchen

spam musubi hawaiian food da kitchen
photo: Da Kitchen on Facebook

shave ice in Lahaina, Maui:
Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

hawaiian shave ice ululani's
photo: Ululani’s on Facebook

Hello! I'm Kristina

Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.