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Unique Hawaii Foods to Experience

In addition to its beautiful beaches and unique mix of cultures, Hawaii is also a prime destination for foodies that are interested in uncommon dishes. You may recognize some elements of the dishes listed, and that is because a lot of Hawaiian dishes derive ingredients and other aspects from Asian foods. Below we have carefully curated a list of dishes exclusive to Hawaii.


Photo courtesy of Sebastian Sayegh

Firstly we are starting off with a dish that everyone knows, Poke. For those unfamiliar with what Poke is, “POH-keh” is a dish made up of cut-up pieces of raw, marinated fish – typically tuna – laid over rice and vegetables with savory sauces. This is typically a dish of choice amongst an array of people, ranging from visitors to locals. It can range as an easy snack as the beach or a filling lunch for the whole ohana to enjoy!

Where can you try it on Maui?

  • Tobi’s Shave Ice
  • Any supermarket
  • Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors

For a more detailed list, go check out our blog post on the Best Poke spots in Maui.


Acai is a more common dish, particularly on the mainland as it is extremely easy to make and is interchangeable to everyone’s preferences. Açaí, pronounced “ah-sigh-EE“, comes from the acai berry grown on the acai palm tree. Typically served as an “Acai Bowl” the dish is frozen fruit blended and served as a smoothie in a bowl with the addition of toppings such as chia seeds, bananas, and granola. Ideally, this meal is enjoyed as sweet. However, there is a saltier version that includes dried fish as a topping.

Where can you try it on Maui?

  • Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods
  • Mo ‘Ono Hawaiʻi Food Truck
  • Baya Bowls

Shave Ice

Another beloved sweet dish is shave ice. Shave ice is similar to snow cones as they are both derived from a block of ice. However, as opposed to being made from crushed ice. Shave ice is made through fine shavings from the block of ice. Like an Acai bowl, the flavorings and toppings are interchangeable to each individual’s preference. Elements of a typical shave ice include: Flavored syrup, ice cream, condensed milk, and/or li hing mui (salty dried Chinese plums).

Where can you try it on Maui?

  • Tobi’s Shave Ice & Poke
  • Ululuani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (multiple locations around Maui)
  • Surfing Monkey Shave Ice

Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop

This is a bit different from the other dishes listed because it is an entire establishment. However, we wouldn’t do Leoda’s justice by recommending one pick. The savory dishes at Leoda’s are delicious, though the real star of the show is their sweet pies. Here are a few personal favorites from the Sayles Team:

  • Olowalu Lime Pie
  • Cocunut Cream Pie
  • Chocolate Mac Nut Pie

Check out their menu here

Mixed Plate

Mixed plate or plate lunch is a dish in which there is a combination of three entrees, usually with rice. Each plate is different as the whole idea of the dish is choosing the particular elements you want in the plate. If one were to compare it to another dish it would most likely be the Japanese bento. Mixed plates serve as a filling and quality meal for many at an affordable price.

Where can you try it on Maui?

  • Poi by the Pound
  • Aloha mixed plate

Spam Musubi

Spam has had a long and loving relationship with Hawaii. To give a short run-down of what exactly Spam is, it is canned meat made mainly from ham. It can be served on its own as breakfast with eggs and rice, or cooked again mixed with noodles. Spam musubi can be prepared at home, but is also sold in grocery stores in the prepared food areas. The process is easily just frying or grilling a slice of Spam with light teriyaki sauce and laid ontop of a layer of cooked rice over a strip of nori.

Where can you try it on Maui?

  • Any supermarket

Contact Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist


Ho’olei villas, we are also currently the in house “Sayles” team at Ho’olei Grand Wailea

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born in South Maui and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)


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