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