The cuisine in Hawaii is more exciting than it ever has been, thanks to talented local chefs who make it a point to work together with local farmers and fishermen, ensuring the freshest and highest quality ingredients. The style of cuisine reflects the different settlers that have made their way to Hawaii’s shores, from the Native Hawaiians to the Europeans, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese, making it a cuisine that is truly unique to Hawaii. OROGOLD reviews where to go in Hawaii for the most authentic local food.
Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona
Located in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island, Da Poke Shack has not only been rated as having the best food in Hawaii, but also, by Yelp, as having the best food in the United States. Although it may only be a small shack, that can be hard to find, be sure to arrive early, as you may end up waiting, since it really is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. From 12 different kinds of fresh poke to fresh seafood and a delicious array of side dishes, this is the number one place in Hawaii to taste truly authentic Hawaiian cuisine. OROGOLD recommends ordering the sharing plate, as this gives you the opportunity to try a few different dishes rather than just one.
The Dining Room, Lanai
Nowhere else in Hawaii offers the same level of exquisite country estate ambiance alongside such tasty local food as The Dining Room on Lanai. Ingredients are extremely fresh, sourced regularly from 100 different local farmers and fishermen, and signature dishes include the Molokai venison and the Big Island lamb. The outside area is an ideal place to sip on a cocktail while watching the sun go down over the ocean, before heading inside for an unforgettable dinner.
Alan Wong’s, Honolulu
Alan Wong’s has been open since 1995, founded by Chef Wong, one of the originators of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Although the food may not be cheap, and the restaurant without good views, it is worth the visit to taste some of the best Asian fusion that you will find in Hawaii. The soy-braised and grilled ‘Kalbi’ style twice-cooked short ribs are not to be missed, and neither is the chopped ahi sashimi with the avocado salsa stack, all of which have such amazing flavors. Although the six and seven-course tasting menus may seem like a bit of a splurge, OROGOLD highly recommends this in order to experience the best of Alan Wong’s.
Ko, which means sugarcane in Hawaiian, is inspired by the state’s sugarcane plantation era, when immigrants from China, Japan, Portugal and the Philippines arrived to work on the plantations, and brought with them their own culinary traditions. Chef Tylun Pang, the executive chef at Ko, creates his own interpretation of traditional family recipes, bringing a unique cross-cultural cuisine to Maui. From Korean noodles to Filipino spring rolls to Portuguese bean soup, you definitely won’t be disappointed by the many flavors exploding in your mouth, or by the large portions, guaranteed to fill up the hungriest of bellies.
The Hawaii cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures, and this is what makes it so special. Whether you enjoy authentic poke at a roadside shack or fusion cuisine in a fine dining restaurant, you will be spoilt for choice on any of the Hawaiian islands that you choose to visit.