Travel is not complete without inserting food trip or trying local cuisines in your itinerary. And so Hawaiian experience is not complete without sampling their local cuisine and famous treats like Macadamia nuts. Like the US mainland, Hawaii is also packed with fast-food restaurants and cafes but a good way to spent a different gastronomic experience of the islands is tasting its popular treats and cuisine. Here are the little gastronomic experience I had in Hawaii.
During our second day, we did try sampling local cuisines at Perry's Smorgy's Restauruant (2380 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, Oahu), a buffet restaurant located in Kuhio Ave, Waikiki just walking distance from our hotel. It was lunch time. For almost 10USD per head, you to enjoy a buffer treat that every family will definitely enjoy. It's eat-all-you-can time. Most of the foods served are standard American foods with few Asian cuisines like pancit (which I suspect that the owner is Asian plus the fact that half of the staffs were Filipinos!). Food isn't anything special but absolutely fine. You get what you paid for. Different dishes served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lunch, I did try almost all the cuisines but the ones I like were Mahi Mahi Fillet, Chicken Teriyaki, Italian Spaghetti and native Hawaiian pineapples for dessert. Tropical Salad Bar is also worth a try as appetizer or after meal course. If you're curious what is Mahi Mahi, it is a fish popularly consumed in Hawaii. It taste like tilapia. The place has a nice tropical garden setting with koi ponds and shading trees. If you're looking for a budget buffet style sampling in Hawaii and not much into high-standard food craving then this is definitely worth a try. Too bad as of this time I'm writing this, Perry Smory is already closed.
On our fourth day in Hawaii while touring North Shore, we were treated to Kahuku Shrimp. This one-of-a-kind shrimp cuisine is served mostly by North Shore Shrimp Trucks. The trucks are individually owned and operated trucks that sell mostly local, fresh shrimp along the island's north shore. Most of the trucks are located near the town of Kahuku, but these trucks can also be found along the entire stretch of Kamehameha Highway from Hale'iwa Town to Kualoa Ranch. I have learned that the original truck was Giovanni's Original White Shrimp Truck who started serving shrimp from a truck on the north shore in 1993. The truck we had stayed to eat was Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck which had a huge cover with tables and chairs to eat the famous Kahuku Shrimp. For 10-13USD per plate, one can sample the famed Kahuku Shrimps cooked in various style and flavors. Each truck has a unique style and flavor but most serve both the basic garlic & butter and the hot and spicy shrimp along with their individual specialties. I ordered garlic and butter shrimp which is the best-seller and the original flavor. I am surprise by the big servings of the shrimp that is served with rice and/or macaroni salad with vegetable sidings, a typical Hawaiian plate lunch style. I can't finish the whole serving but the shrimp is fresh, richly-flavored and juicy. My sister had the spicy shrimp (the second best-seller flavor) and my mom had the tempura style. I am recommending to try this dish when you visit North Shore. Hawaiian cuisine experience is not complete without tasting the famous Kahuku shrimp.
Each morning I get to enjoy Kona coffee courtesy of our hotel complementary amenities. Kona coffee is the market name for coffee (Coffea arabica) cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. This coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Only coffee from the Kona Districts can be legally described as "Kona". The unique Kona weather pattern of sunny mornings, cloud cover or rain in the afternoons, little wind and mild nights combined with porous, mineral rich volcanic soil, creates favorable coffee growing conditions. The loanword for coffee in the Hawaiian language is kope, pronounced (ˈkope). It is one coffee that is distinctly a flavor of Hawaii.
One of the best sweat treats of Hawaii and probably the best pasalubong (bring home souvenir) are definitely the Macadamia Nuts. It is almost synanymous with Hawaii whenever it is mentioned. It is simply because Hawaii's produce established the nut internationally. The best way to enjoy it is tasting the Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Boxes of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are perfect bring home souvenir. Our last day souvenir hunting was spent on buying Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for pasalubong. You can also enjoy the simply roasted nut version of macadamia. Popular brands like Hawaiian Host and Mauna Loa sells various products of Macadamia nuts that are authentic and proudly Hawaiian made. One bite is not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth so prepare yourself for a sweet indulgence. Macadamia nuts is another must taste Hawaiian food that you shouldn't miss when you visit Hawaii.
Other lists of Hawaiian cuisines that worth a try were Loco Moco (Hamburger patties served with gravy and topped with two eggs), Hawaiian shaved ice (an ice-based dessert made by shaving a block of ice), Poke (raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine) and Chicken long rice (Chicken cooked with chicken broth, ginger, green onions, and long rice). A travel foodie won't certainly go hungry while experiencing the paradise.
A Taste of Hawaii is part of my Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise series where I share my travel story to Honolulu, Hawaii last August 24-29, 2010. To continue reading, read part 5 - Discover Oahu.
You might also be interested in reading the other parts of the series.