When it comes to food, Hawaii is a culinary adventure. It is part of the US, which means that American food and culture can be found in abundance. But, it also has a huge Polynesian population and a growing population of people from different parts of Asia, which bring their own cultures and flavours to the mix. As a result, the islands are full of restaurants, food stands, cafes, and grocery stores that have delicious treats from all over the world!
Here are six delicious Hawaiian treats that you definitely need to try on your next visit.
1. Mochi Ice Cream
Mochi is Japanese glutinous rice that is pounded into a paste and wrapped around small balls of ice cream. I know that the idea of rice and ice cream together sounds a bit strange, but the rice is flavoured and prevents the ice cream from melting all over your hands. It is a surprisingly delicious and satisfying treat!
Essentially Portuguese donuts, these confections are made of balls of yeast dough that are deep fried and then coated in sugar. Traditionally they are made without holes or fillings, though some now contain cream. Leonard's Bakery in Honolulu is always packed with people buying these melt-in-your-mouth treats by the dozen.
I know, I know, pineapple isn't that exotic anymore. We can easily find it at pretty much any grocery store year-round. But, pineapple tastes entirely different in the place that it was grown then it does after it has sat in a ship or airplane for hours. Trust me, you'll understand what I mean after your first bite. If you are in the area, the Dole Plantation serves pineapple in pretty much any form you can think of — my favourite is the chocolate dipped slices.
4. Udon Soup
Fresh and traditional Japanese udon noodles are made from a thick wheat flour. The soup is made of a flavoured broth and is filled with vegetables, tofu, and sometimes prawns, fishcakes, or beef. It's a great, light, and healthy meal after a day at the beach.
5. Shave Ice
Like the name implies, this dessert is made by shaving a block of ice (unlike snow cones that are made with crushed ice). The fine texture causes the added syrups to be absorbed by the ice rather than to just surrounding it. Common flavours in Hawaii include pineapple, coconut, lychee, kiwi fruit and mango, and often come with a scoop of ice cream on the bottom or sweetened, condensed milk on top.
6. Shrimp Truck Shrimp
They may not look like much, but shrimp trucks will serve you the best shrimp that you will EVER have. The shrimp is always fresh, comes in flavours like lemon butter, garlic coconut, and spicy, and is usually served with rice and vegetables. A plate will run you about $13, and the trucks are usually cash only.