When you think of Hawaiian foods, most likely images of pineapples, spam, or a luau pig roast will pop into your head. But when I went to Kauai I was pleasantly surprised to find some other dishes that were absolutely amazing and tasty to boot!
Below are some of my favorite new finds:
- Poke Bowl
Poke is #1 on my list for good reason. It’s a staple Hawaiian dish that’s also healthy and delicious! Have you heard of it? It’s definitely picking up in popularity here on the mainland of the United States. For some super strange reason I had never heard about it, nonetheless tried it. At least that was until I visited Kauai last year. I was amazed a how much I loved it, and I’m not even a huge fan of raw foods. Basically poke is bite size raw fish (typically ahi) that is seasoned and marinated in a number of different flavorings including sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, onion, and chili sauce. It can be eaten on it’s own, but it is typically served over rice to create a poke bowl (hence the name).
Although there are many amazing places on the island to eat poke, hands down my favorite was The Dolphin Restaurant. You don’t even have to dine in, the fish market has amazing take out!
- Loco Moco
Meeting somewhere between a hearty breakfast and a gluttonous masterpiece, this dish is widely popular in Hawaii! There are many variations, but basically it consists of rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. What I love about it is that it perfectly represents Hawaii’s status as a melting pot between Asian and Western culture. It’s as if someone woke up one day and couldn’t decide between a rice bowl and a hamburger and was like, what the heck, let’s just put it all together. Bon appetite!
Poi is a grayish-purple pudding-like substance that is uniquely Hawaiian. Made from the root of the starchy potato-like taro plant, poi is made by cooking, mashing, and fermenting the taro plant into a thick paste. Although the taro plant grows all over the world, only the Hawaiians make poi. And of all the Hawaiian islands, Kauai has the largest taro-producing farm in the state. Typically tasting slightly sweet, if left to ferment for more than a day it gives it a unique, sour taste. Locals eat poi on its own as a side dish, and actually brag about how sour they like their poi.
- Puka Dog
When on Kauai, you just gotta try a puka dog, aka the Hawaiian hot dog. These special hot dogs are made with a toasted Hawaiian sweet bread bun, and a Polish sausage. But the real kicker is in the toppings! You can choose your level of spiciness for the garlic lemon secret sauce, and then choose a Hawaiian fruit relish topping, either mango, pineapple, papaya, coconut, banana, or star fruit.
If you’re not a huge fan of sausages, they also have the option for a veggie dog in substitute to the Polish sausage, which I chose and quite enjoyed!
- Aloha Juice Bar
Not so much one particular item, but more an absolute indulgence in all things amazing – this place is simply to die for! Located in Hanalei, the Aloha Juice Bar perfectly represents the healthy and organic culture of Kauai. From açaí bowls with coconut flakes and bee pollen, to freshly squeezed juices, turmeric ginger lemonades, or starfruit and mango smoothies, everything on the menu is delightful and you really can’t go wrong. This is the perfect place for something nutritious and refreshing on those hot Hawaiian days.
Over to you! What were your favorite foods in Kauai?