Where to eat in Honolulu, Hawai’i
Hawai‘i hasn’t always been considered a hot culinary destination – but change is afoot, as Megan Arkinstall discovers as she hits the capital’s best foodie spots. Honolulu, the capital of the Aloha State and home to famous Waikiki Beach has long been celebrated as a fly-and-flop tropical destination: one that conjures up images of grass-skirt-wearing hula dancers swaying to the harmonious sounds of the ukulele, longboard-riding surfers gesturing the shaka, and a relaxed national uniform of vibrant floral shirts and leis.   But perhaps one thing you don’t know about Hawai‘i (or at least it’s not at the top of your holiday checklist) is that it has an incredibly unique cuisine that has been born from a medley of cultural influences. (And it has nothing to do with Hawaiian pizza, which – by the way – was created in Canada.)   Here, we give you the lowdown on authentic Hawaiian cuisine, and why Honolulu is one of the USA’s hottest culinary cities.   Beyond Waikiki’s famous streets are some smaller, lesser-known enclaves with some of the tastiest, most creative eateries you’ll find. Kaka‘ako A cool neighbourhood nestled between Ala Moana and Downtown Honolulu with colourful street art, quality boutique shopping and a grassy waterfront park. [caption id="attachment_47770" align="alignleft" width="600"] Explore the streets of Kaka’ako[/caption] Moku Kitchen The menu at Moku Kitchen is seasonal and features dishes such as a fresh island mahi mahi fish sandwich, kalua pork pizza and saimin noodles (a noodle dish with Japanese, Chinese and Filipino influences). Address: 60 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu Piggy Smalls Chef Andrew Le’s Piggy Smalls has an eclectic menu featuring pho, pasta, quiche and porchetta; it’s part of the much-loved Pig and the Lady family. Address: 1200 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu [caption id="attachment_47768" align="alignleft" width="600"] Enjoy a bowl of vegan pho at Piggy Smalls[/caption] Eat the Street food truck rally If you’re in town on the last Friday of the month, be sure to check out the Eat the Street food truck rally.   More than 40 vendors cook up burgers, shrimp and tacos, as well as island-inspired cuisine such as plate lunch (the Hawaiian version of meat and three veg) and loco moco (white rice, hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy). Address: 555 South St, Honolulu Butterfly Ice cream For a sweet treat, head to Butterfly Ice cream, which churns small-batch seasonal ice-cream with local flavours such as Kona coffee, Lehua honey and poi banana bread. Address: 324 Coral St #103, Honolulu Kaimuki An eclectic residential neighbourhood to the east of Waikiki, with specialty shops and unique eateries. Ed Kenney Hawaiian-born chef Ed Kenney is a huge pioneer in the local food community. His restaurants Kaimuki Superette (a deli-style eatery selling seasonal sandwiches and sundries;), Town (a Mediterranean-Hawaiian restaurant with a farm-to-table menu) and Mud Hen Water (honouring Hawai‘i’s cuisine through small and large share plates) are all located in Kaimuki and showcase what Hawaiian Regional Cuisine is all about. Koko Head Cafe Hidden down an alley, Koko Head Cafe is a popular island-style brunch house with a menu of inventive comfort food such as a poke omelette, pancakes Hawaiian-style, and the deathly decadent Elvis’s Revenge – peanut butter, banana tempura, bacon, local honey, toasted coconut and sweet bun. [caption id="attachment_47767" align="alignleft" width="600"] Coffee and doughnuts at Koko Head Cafe[/caption] It’s helmed by top chef and ex-New Yorker Lee Anne Wong, a household name in the US who also lends her talents to Hawaiian Airlines as its executive chef. Address: 1145 12th Ave C, Honolulu Chinatown Established more than 140 years ago, this is one of the USA’s oldest Chinatown districts. [caption id="attachment_47769" align="alignleft" width="600"] Honolulu’s Chinatown district is one of the oldest in the State[/caption] Maguro Brothers Maguro Brothers is the place to go for some of the freshest fish on the island. Run by two Japanese fishmonger brothers, this no-fuss stall is tucked away at the back of Kekaulike Market and has a simple menu of poke, sashimi, cooked fish and ramen. Senia Refined but relaxed, Senia is about expertly prepared and artfully presented Modern American cuisine. Guests can dine à la carte or indulge in a US$185 ($260) per person tasting menu at the 12-seat chef counter facing the kitchen. Address: 75 N King St, Honolulu The Pig and the Lady Chow down on Vietnamese fare made with Pacific ingredients and a Hawaiian twist at The Pig and the Lady. The menu features dishes like green papaya salad with fried kuaui shrimp, Hanoi-style fish and poi, and malasadas (a Portuguese confection). [caption id="attachment_47771" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Pig and the lady[/caption] Address: 83 N King St, Honolulu Getting there Hawaiian airlines has direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Honolulu.   Optional upgrades to Extra Comfort seating provide more leg room, priority boarding in Honolulu, a complimentary amenities kit and a wider array of entertainment. Staying there Located right on the beachfront, the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort offers 635 generous room and suites and facilities including the La‘akea Spa, fitness centre, swimming pool, sun deck and whirlpool spa, a trio of signature restaurants and daily Hawaiian cultural activities.   It also offers easy access to shopping and dining at Waikiki Beach Walk and the bustling heart of Waikiki, Kalakaua Avenue.
Eat up!
Hawai‘i Foodie Guide: 7 Hawaiian dishes to try (and where to find them)
From Lau Lau to shaved ice. This is the essential list of Hawaiian dishes you need to try! Fried shrimp Ultra-fresh shrimp (prawns to us Aussies) show up on menus across the Hawaiian Islands, but arguably the favourite crustacean-based dish is fried shrimp. The true quality of a plate of fried shrimp comes from the amount of buttery garlic sauce that comes with it; the more the better.   Try it at: Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Truck on the North Shore of O‘ahu. Malasadas Introduced by the Portuguese when they came to Hawai‘i in the 19th century, this doughnut without a hole is golden brown on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and coated with sugar.   Try it at: Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu, O‘ahu, which has been making these sweet doughy balls since 1953 leonardshawaii.com Lomi Lomi This salad is a traditional side dish, made from cured salted salmon chunks, fresh tomato and sweet Maui onions that are combined, or massaged (lomi lomi means massage in Hawaiian), to meld the flavours. [caption id="attachment_45874" align="alignnone" width="600"] A incredibly mouthwatering, fresh dish you HAVE to try[/caption] Try it at: Umekes in Kona, Island of Hawai‘i. umekesrestaurants.com Plate lunch Mix and match it however you like; the Hawaiian plate lunch is two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad and entrée – usually kalua pig, chicken lau lau (wrapped in taro leaves) or lomi lomi salmon. Can’t choose? Get a mixed plate and sample everything! [caption id="attachment_45876" align="alignnone" width="600"] A little something for everyone...[/caption] Try it at: Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina on Maui, which serves up incredible ocean views with its traditional plate lunches alohamixedplate.com Lau Lau This dish is considered to be soul food in Hawai‘i, so beloved it is. Meaning ‘leaf, leaf’ in Hawaiian, the name refers to the traditional process of wrapping meat (usually pork or salted fish) in taro leaves (luau) and then steaming it (wrapped in a ti leaf, which can withstand high cooking temperatures). It is now used to refer to the dish itself, which is usually served with a side of rice. [caption id="attachment_45877" align="alignnone" width="1024"] You'll never be hungry![/caption] Try it at: Highway Inn, O‘ahu, has been serving up Hawaiian food since 1947  myhighwayinn.com Kalua pig The main attraction at any luau and a component of the plate lunch, kalua pig is cooked in an imu (underground oven) for several hours resulting in smoky, succulent meat.   Try it at: Poi By The Pound on Maui poibythepound.com Shave Ice This frozen confection differs from a snow cone, which is made of crushed ice; shave ice soaks up the syrup better creating a fluffier texture. It was brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Japanese sugar plantation workers in the mid 19th century, and it is a huge hit all over the state.   Try it at: Wailua Shave Ice on Kaua‘i wailuashaveice.com    
Poke Bowl.
Hawai‘i foodie guide: culinary experiences in the Aloha State
Think Hawai'i is all about surfing and beaches?  Think again, Hawai'i is the capital of food cool with cocktails plenty and quality local produce. In high spirits With a tropical climate that lends itself to a sundowner or two, these distilleries are brewing up something great.   It was the Polynesians who initially brought sugar cane to Hawai‘i, and the first sugar mill was established in Lāna‘i in the early 1800s; commercial cane fields were established at the town of Koloa on Kaua‘i in 1835. Since then the crop has been used to make everyone’s favourite island tipple, rum.   Even if you’re not a rum-lover, a visit to the Koloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store at the historic Kilohana Plantation in Lihue will set you on the path to appreciation. Koloa’s rums are premium, single-batch, made using the kind of sustainable practices that are fast becoming the standard for businesses across all of the Islands of Hawai‘i. [caption id="attachment_45869" align="alignnone" width="320"] You won't want to miss a tasting session at the popular Koloa Rum Tasting Room[/caption] Meanwhile, on the island of O‘ahu, Manulele Distillers at Kunia has a farm-to-bottle philosophy when it comes to producing its celebrated Kō Hana Agricole Rum.   The heirloom varieties of sugar cane (kō in Hawaiian) used to produce its small batch, single variety white, barrel-aged and cask strength rums are all hand-harvested before being pressed for juice and distilled with care. The resulting spirits, considered to be some of the best pure cane rums in the world (many mass-produced rums are made with molasses, a by-product of sugar production), are presented in sleek cube bottles with glass stoppers and hand-numbered on site.   Hawai‘i’s abundant sugar cane is not just utilised to produce rum; on the island of Maui, sustainable, select harvested organic sugar cane is combined with deep ocean mineral water, sourced some 900 metres below the Kona Coast off the Island of Hawai‘i, to produce a uniquely Hawaiian vodka, Ocean Vodka. The water used is purified and desalinated through a natural filtration method that ensures it retains its rich mineral content, while no GMOs or pesticides are used. The bottles resemble antique glass fishing floats.   From paddock to plate With a growing focus on utilising sustainable farming practices, as well as its abundant natural resources, Hawai‘i has earnt a reputation as a destination creating quality food and drinks from its deliciously fresh produce. [caption id="attachment_45870" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hawai'i's famous Farmer's Markets.[/caption] This kind of attention to detail and respect for the environment is encapsulated in places like O’o Farm, located at 1066 metres on the slopes of Haleakala in the upcountry farming community of Kula on Maui. The passion project of surfing buddies Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert, who purchased the land here in 2000 with a citrus and stone fruit orchard and a few coffee trees attached, O’o Farms is now a thriving ‘no-till’ farm growing Hawaiian coffee, fruit trees, garden vegetables and greenhouse tomatoes, flowers and herbs. [caption id="attachment_45872" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hawai'i is earning a growing reputation for its quality produce[/caption] Given the cornerstone of Hawai‘i’s unique cuisine is island-fresh local produce and ingredients, it should come as no surprise that there is also no shortage of farmers’ markets to visit. Some of the best on offer include Hilo Farmers Market on the Island of Hawai‘i (Wednesday and Saturdays, 6am – 4pm); KCC Farmers Market across from Diamond Head in Waikiki (Saturdays 7.30am – 11am) or Hale‘iwa Farmers Market on the North Shore (Thursdays, 2pm – 6pm); Kaua‘i Culinary Market at Poipu on Kaua‘i (Wednesday, 3.30pm – 6pm); and Maui’s Upcountry Farmers Market in Pukalani (Saturdays, 7am – 11am).   The best way to see (and taste) the traditions and practices of farming on Hawai‘i first-hand is on one of the many farm tours available across the Hawaiian Islands at places like the Surfing Goat Dairy in lower Kula on Maui, which supplies its award-winning cheeses to restaurants across the island, and Big Island Bees on the Island of Hawai‘i, where you can take a beekeeping tour and join in on opening a bee hive. And for the sweet toothed, Garden Island Chocolate on Kaua‘i produces organic dark chocolate (85 per cent cacao) which you can sample on its guided chocolate tour.   Another way to experience Hawai‘i’s paddock to plate ethos is on a rambling culinary home tour, which gives an irresistible taste of the island lifestyle. Home Tours Hawai‘i on the Island of Hawai‘i offers its guests the chance to enjoy a progressive 3-course ‘farm to fork’ brunch using fresh ingredients and prepared in private homes. What is poke? [caption id="attachment_45871" align="alignnone" width="600"] The famous poke bowl - A crowd favourite and a must-try when you're in Hawai'i[/caption] One of the most delicious culinary exports from Hawai‘i food exports is poke (‘to slice’ in Hawaiian), which originated when local fishermen seasoned off-cuts and ate them as a snack. Traditionally served as an appetiser or main dish (the cubed fish is seasoned with salt, soy and sesame oil and mixed with Maui onion, ground candlenut and algae), it has evolved into a popular salad served with accompaniments ranging from avocado to coleslaw to rice. Caffeine culture Hawai‘i has a reputation for growing great coffee beans. Coffee arrived in Hawai‘i in 1817 and after a few years of patchy success at growing, plants were successfully introduced onto the Island of Hawai‘i in 1828, with the first commercial operation starting up in Koloa on Kaua‘i in 1836.   As sugar cane became less profitable many farmers started growing coffee beans instead; now more of Hawai‘is farmers grow coffee than any other crop across Kaua‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i and Island of Hawai‘i. So it’s not surprising that there are some serious brews to be had; here a few coffee spots to hit up for a heart starter on your next visit. The essential go-to's Little Fish Coffee Poipu and Hanapepe, Kaua‘i Order hand-brewed coffee using organic Hawaiian beans and feast on dishes constructed of locally grown produce. littlefishcoffee.com   Akamai Coffee Co. Maui Housed in a light, airy space in Kihei, the coffee here follows a seed-to-cup process, serving up 100 per cent locally roasted Maui beans. akamaicoffee.com Island Vintage Coffee - Waikiki and the North Shore, O‘ahu With three cafes on O‘ahu, this consistently good coffee, made with Kona beans, is a must. islandvintagecoffee.com   Kaya’s at Kona Island of Hawai‘i The best organic Kona beans are used in its brews, including the coffee ice cubes in the iced version. kona123.com/kayas.html
Chilled out in Hawai'i
Hawai’i Foodie Guide: Flavours of the Hawaiian Islands
Explore the unique cuisine that reflects a rich cultural history and idyllic tropical lifestyle.  Experience the flavours of the Hawaiian Islands with our Hawai'i Foodie Guide... Using only the stars to navigate, Polynesians arrived on the Hawaiian Islands in their outriggers some 1500 years ago. And while the islands were lush and mountainous with cool, fresh water, these voyagers found little more than fish, seaweed, berries, for food. As they settled the islands, they planted sugar cane, fruits and vegetables such as coconuts, sweet potato and banana, and raised pigs and chickens. With these staple ingredients, early Hawaiian cooking comprised of dishes such as poi (a thick paste made from taro root); poke (raw fish seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt and seaweed); haupia (sweet coconut milk and Polynesian arrowroot); and lau lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves) cooked in an imu (underground oven).   When Westerners arrived in the 18th century, they brought with them other foods such as pineapple, coffee and cattle; and when sugar cultivation hit its peak the following century, workers flooded in from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal, introducing their flavours to the region. So, the Hawai‘i’s cuisine that we know today was born from a medley of cultural influences. Unique dishes such as Saimin (a Chinese noodle soup), Spam Musubi (essentially Spam sushi, with sticky rice and seaweed), and Malasadas (Portuguese doughnut) became local favourites.   In 1991, 12 chefs established ‘Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine’, a culinary movement where they partnered with local farmers to showcase and utilise the best of Hawai‘i’s produce and created a contemporary cuisine that blended fresh Hawaiian ingredients with flavours from around the world. Today, this philosophy continues as the Hawai‘i’s food scene thrives, with many restaurants touting menus focused on Hawaiian flavours. [caption id="attachment_45867" align="alignnone" width="600"] Giovanni's paved the way for the thriving food truck scene on O'ahu's North Shore[/caption] Street food is growing in popularity with roadside stalls and food trucks serving local delicacies made fresh to order. The laid-back town of Hale‘iwa on O‘ahu’s North Shore is ground zero for food truck cuisine, where trailblazer Giovanni’s, which started serving fried shrimp out of a converted 1953 bread truck in 1993, has been joined by trucks serving up everything from Hawai‘i’s comfort food to burgers to acai bowls. Cafes are making really good coffee that Australians will enjoy, and there’s a burgeoning brewery and distillery scene. [caption id="attachment_45866" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cruising the food trucks of O'ahu's laid-back North Shore is a culinary treat![/caption] An ever increasing number of Hawai‘i-based chefs are serving up noteworthy food using locally sourced produce in worth-going-out-of-your-way-for restaurants. One such chef is Hilo native Mark Pomaski at Moon and Turtle, where the constantly changing menu (sometimes daily) inventively makes the most of local seasonal produce and ingredients including ocean-to-plate (or sea-to-service) seafood.   Food festivals Kapalua Wine and Food Festival Maui – June Located at the beachfront Kapalua Resort on Maui, partake in cooking classes, wine and food pairings, winemaker dinners, and evening galas hosted by winemakers and prominent chefs from Hawai‘i and across the globe. kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com The Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival The Island of Hawai‘i, Maui and O‘ahu – October More than 150 international masterchefs, culinary experts, winemakers and mixologists converge over three islands for three weeks of events, including wine tastings, pool parties, cooking classes for kids, and food and wine pairings. The event raises money for sustainability, culinary programs and agriculture, so while you’re indulging, you’re also doing good. hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com Kaua‘i Chocolate & Coffee Festival Kaua‘i – October The historic town of Hanapepe comes to life with farm tours, workshops and Q&As with growers and experts, live entertainment and the best part, sampling glorious chocolate and coffee. Kaua‘ichocolateandcoffeefestival.com   Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Island of Hawai‘i – November Celebrating and preserving Kona’s 200-year-old coffee heritage, this festival includes farm experiences and coffee picking, barista training, beer, wine and coffee pairing, latte art competitions, as well as art exhibits, concerts and parades. konacoffeefest.com
arvo-cafe-oahu
Hawai‘i Foodie Guide: Kaka‘ako, O‘ahu
Nestled in between Ala Moana and Downtown Honolulu, Kaka‘ako is O‘ahu’s coolest neighbourhood with a buzzing food scene. Here is a snapshot of some of the best places to sate your appetite. Bevy Inspired by the speakeasies of the prohibition era, Bevy is a brooding little bar with a vintage industrial interior. The curated menu of crafted cocktails is the hero (created by award-winning mixologist Christian Self), with a European-style farm-to-table menu. See bevyhawaii.com Piggy Smalls From the team behind Chinatown’s The Pig and The Lady, this playful spin-off located in Ward Village serves a menu inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine. The unique desserts are a must-try, such as the Hanoi-style egg coffee and seasonal slushies. See thepigandthelady.com [caption id="attachment_45821" align="alignnone" width="600"] Piggy Smalls has got the Southeast Asian cuisine covered, you'll definitely be coming back for more![/caption] Butterfly Ice cream Be sure to stop by for a scoop of this artisanal small-batch ice-cream made using natural and seasonal ingredients. You can’t go past the Hawaiian flavours such as Kona coffee, Lehua honey and Poi banana bread. See butterflycreamery.com [caption id="attachment_45820" align="alignnone" width="600"] Get your ice-cream fix and try some signature Hawaiian flavours[/caption] Village Bottle Shop & Tasting Room Beer geeks and novices alike will get their kicks at Village, which stocks more than 500 craft beers from Hawai‘i and across the globe. It has 16 rotating taps for sampling on-site and oenophiles have a pick of eight wines on draft, too. See villagebeerhawaii.com Arvo With a name like Arvo and a menu including flat whites and Vegemite toast, Aussies will feel right at home in this beautiful cafe. The interiors are bright and colourful (it shares its space with Paiko, a gorgeous botanicals and décor store) and takeaways are available at the little hole in the wall. See arvocafe.com [caption id="attachment_45823" align="alignnone" width="600"] Needing your caffeine fix and American-style just won't do? Arvo serves up a range of Aussie coffees and flavours to keep you satisfied[/caption] Pow Wow Enough food? Be sure to hit the pavement and explore the cool and colourful artistic side to this urban hub. Thanks to artistic network Pow Wow, the streets of Kaka‘ako are adorned with some 50 vibrant murals, making it an Instagrammers’ playground. See powwowhawaii.com [caption id="attachment_45822" align="alignnone" width="600"] When you need a walk after devouring your lunch, hit the streets of Kaka‘ako and check out some of the many vibrant murals[/caption] Eat the Street You’ll be spoilt for choice at this food truck event where more than 40 vendors cook up the likes of burgers, shrimp and tacos, as well as island-inspired cuisine such as plate lunch, shave ice and loco moco. This event takes place at Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park on the last Friday of every month, 4pm–9pm.

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