This is a tough Tasty Thursdays post… because honestly, the best thing I ate this week was, yep, same as last week. More poke! You’re probably getting bored of it. But I wasn’t! I ate it nearly every day we were in Kauai. However, I did branch out into other Hawaiian food…and there’s a lot to love.
We already talked about the awesome, filling breakfasts. But I haven’t mentioned some of the other signature flavors that highlight Hawaiian dishes.
Of course there’s mango, pineapple, and other tropical fruits like passionfruit and papaya. The macadamia nut and coconut are famous ingredients, as well as all kinds of fish–tuna is the most popular, but common too are ono (Wahoo), mahimahi (dolphinfish), and opakapaka (pink snapper). And you can’t miss Spam, in all its varieties!
All these flavors mix and match for a very distinctive cuisine that shows influences from Polynesia (classic taro and breadfruit dishes like poi, as well as the amazing kalua pork), Japan (saimin, a noodle dish, very similar to ramen), the Philippines (adobo), Korea (kimchi-style seafood), and Portugal (delicious donuts called malasadas), among many others.
On this trip, we enjoyed a kalua pork sandwich, some crab and bacon wontons with wasabi guava dip, and smoothies made with a slew of tropical fruits. The sandwich and wontons were from a place called Keoki’s Paradise–this isn’t our typical joint, since we’re most definitely more hole-in-the-wall, grab and eat at the beach type of people when we’re in Hawaii. But for a nicer dinner, they’re awesome, and each item down to the accompaniments were excellently executed. As for the smoothies, we got them at Aloha Aina Juice Bar. A bit pricey at $8.50 per 16oz, but they used no milk (awesome for lactose-intolerant me), all the fruits were fresh, and they were delicious and super refreshing on the hot sunny day.
We also enjoyed some malasadas from a great bakery called Hanalima Baking, and their customer service was top-notch; they saved us some of these awesome donuts, which usually sell out earlier in the morning and which we could never get because, well, we are not morning people. The Spam musubis from Foodland (the grocery store in Hawaii) were particularly amazing after a day of hiking 8 miles in the pouring (but warm!) rain–they make the perfect portable meal. The saucy sweet and sour ribs, kalua pork and cabbage, and lomi-lomi salmon from Pono Market were the perfect pre-flight lunch.
I’m already missing all the tasty island food. I get my fill when I visit the islands, but sometimes, when I need to taste a bit of sunshine, I look for the nearest Hawaiian food joint. Comforting food that brings me back to warmth and aloha, what could be better?