By Lois Bisquera


Hawaii is a colorful mix of ethnicities, and the cultural blend shows up on the plate as well as on the street. Here are some of the foods commonly found on restaurant/drive-in menus that local folks just can’t live without.

– basically, seaweed-wrapped seasoned white rice shaped into a roll or cone, with layers of ingredi-ents inside or on top. Popular sushi choices are the California Roll, with avocado, fake crab, mayo and cucumber; and tamago, with sweetened fried egg. Some more exotic selections include fried eel (very tasty?), raw fish eggs and raw sea urchin innards.

– sliced raw fish (usually ahi a.k.a. yellowfin tuna) served with hot mustard/shoyu sauce on a bed of thinly sliced cabbage. Poke is chunks of raw ahi or aku (skipjack tuna) commonly mixed with seasoning, chopped seaweed and onion.

The Plate Lunch
– your choice of a few entrees, usually served with macaroni salad, two scoops of rice and some pickled cabbage. From dusty truck drivers to high-heeled secretaries, everyone loves a good plate lunch. For a more healthful version, ask to substitute green salad for the macaroni.

Teriyaki Style
– beef, chicken, pork or fish marinated in a sweet sauce of shoyu (soy sauce), sugar, garlic and ginger. Great on the BBQ.

Lau Lau
– often featured only on Fridays or at special events like weddings and baby luaus, lau laus are labor intensive, indi vidually wrapped “packets” of beef, pork, fish and/or chicken and taro leaves. This traditional Hawaiian favorite is wrapped in ti leaves then steamed for several hours.

– a soupy noodle dish garnished with char siu (Chinese red roast pork), green onions and fishcake, and often eaten with a side-order of teriyaki sticks. Dry mein is fried saimin noodles with the same garnish.

– a Chinese bun that is steamed or baked with meats or veggies inside. The usually fat-laden red pork version is called char siu bao, and a 90’s style vegetarian version with tofu and mushrooms is now available in some places.