10 Dishes to Look for When You Cruise Hawaii

Kalua pig has a mouth-watering smoky flavor.
Kalua pig has a mouth-watering smoky flavor.

From thirst-quenching shave ice to hot saimin noodle soup, Hawaii offers dishes to suit every taste. Here are 10 notable examples that will make you truly feel the spirit of aloha when you cruise Hawaii.

1. Hot Saimin Noodle Soup

This local favorite, which has appeared in Hawaiian cookbooks since the 1930s, is an Asian-inspired soup filled with wheat-flour noodles, broth, strips of omelet, bright-pink fish cake, and green onions, and topped with roast pork (or sometimes Spam, another local fave). The dish is commonly eaten with chopsticks and a spoon and is also known as a popular hangover cure.

2. Poke

Pronounced "poh-keh," this popular appetizer is made up of small pieces of raw tuna, octopus, or salmon combined with scallions, kukui nuts, seaweed, and chili pepper flakes, all marinated in shoyu with a touch of sesame oil. The Hawaiian word poke means "to slice," which is exactly how this fish salad is created.

3. Malasadas

This mouthwatering confection originated in Portugal's Madeira Islands and eventually made its way to Hawaii. Malasadas are egg-sized dough balls dipped and deep-fried in hot oil, then rolled in granulated sugar. They can hold a variety of fillings and flavored creams.

4. A Plate Lunch — Hawaiian Style

As one of the most adored dishes in all of Hawaii, the plate lunch is not to be missed. This popular dish includes laulau — seasoned beef, fish, kalau pork, or chicken wrapped in a taro leaf. The laulau is usually plated with steamed white rice, cabbage, and, in some cases, macaroni salad.

5. Shave Ice

Known as shave ice, not "shaved ice," this cool treat consists of fine ice, unlike the bigger chunks typically found in most snow cones. The flavor you choose — such as mango, coconut, pineapple, or kiwi — is mixed throughout the ice flakes so you can taste it right up until the end.

6. Manapua

Cruising Hawaii is even more memorable when you sink your teeth into small dough balls stuffed to the brim with curry chicken or char siu pork and then steamed. Yum!

7. Loco Moco

The loco moco is an egg and hamburger steak laid out over white rice and covered with gravy. You can find this hearty meal in several variations throughout the islands, but loco moco at certain Oahu restaurants is among the best rated.

8. Spam Musubi

Comprised of a block of steamed white rice topped with grilled Spam and wrapped in nori (dried seaweed), this popular snack can be found in most convenience stores throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

9. Kalua Pig

This dish is prepared by wrapping banana leaves around a pig and steaming it in a broiler. It's seasoned with various spices and salt, which develop into a mouth-watering smoky flavor and rich aroma you can smell for miles.

10. Haupia

Often found at luaus, this gelatin-like dessert is made with thick coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, arrowroot, and salt that's heated until smooth and thick, and then chilled in a square pan. Once it's ready, the haupia is cut up into blocks and served on a ti leaf.

Is your mouth watering yet? Embrace the Aloha Spirit by trying some of these popular local dishes.

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