Get Deliciously Fat in Maui: Hawaiian Food You Must Try

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Maui, Hawaii

While Maui is part of the United States, Hawaiian food is a complex and delicious blend of many cultures including the Philippines, Portugal, China, Korea and Polynesia. And while I have been busy shooting guns, snuba diving, playing the ukulele and riding mules, the most exciting part of Maui is undeniable.

 

I am here to eat.

 

Food is the foundation of a culture and while I love trying molecular gastronomy and seeing how food evolves, my favourite part of visiting an area is eating its traditional food.

 

 

Unlike Mark who seemed to love all the traditional Hawaiian food he ate on other island, I did not like everything, but if you go to the Hawaiian islands you must try this food:

 

Hawaiian Food

poi

Poi

The most well-known and controversial food in Hawaiian cuisine, poi is a glutinous paste made from the taro plant, which is kind of like a yam.

While I love taro, poi is slightly fermented and I cannot get over the sticky texture. If you tell a local you have not tried poi yet they all watch in anticipation because it’s not well liked.

 

pog

POG

If you want to sound like a local at breakfast order some POG – pineapple, orange, guava juice. It’s not always written on the menu but it is definitely available.

Kahlua pork

Now this is a dish that I would truly call magic. Slow roasted pork in an underground oven, if you go to a good luau there is a moment where they take the pig out, otherwise they may cheat it and take it from an oven. The tender meat is then shredded and is so moist and full of flavour.

 

poke

Poke

If you like sushi you will love poke, which is essentially a raw fish salad. It’s simple but requires fresh fish, find out how to make poke at home here.

 

Hawaiian fruit

5. Organic fruit from Ono Farms

Chuck was born and raised on Maui and after a few years traveling the world he returned and bought up land to start organic farming. He has an amazing fruit tasting tour where you will eat fruit you have never seen. If you’re heading to Hana you must stay and speak with him.

6. Laulau

A very traditional dish and found at most luaus, pork is wrapped in taro leaves and cooked until tender.  I could take it or leave it and actually forgot to take a photo, but perhaps it’s because the taro leaves looked like spinach so I ate them – don’t make that mistake.

Lomi lomi salmon

 

7. Lomi Lomi Salmon

Salmon mixed with tomatoes, Maui onions and chili pepper. I did not love it and I’m not sure why.

 

malasadas

8. Malasadas

Portuguese donuts deep-fried and coated with sugar. I’m not a dessert fan but these Timbits are delicious.

 

saimin

9. Saimin

A dish unique to Hawaii but inspired by Japanese, Chinese and Filipino dishes. This noodle dish was developed in the plantation era. The photo above is dry saimin, you can add the broth as you wish, from Sam Sato’s.

 

 

fish sandwich

 11. Any kind of fish you can get your hands on.

While the pork on Maui is delicious, I was overwhelmed by the quality of the seafood and ordered it every chance I could get. There was only one occasion where it was overcooked, and even the little diner in Lana’i understood that food didn’t have to be fancy if it was fresh.

 

molokai sweet potato

12. Moloka’i Sweet Potato

A cross-breed between two other types of potatoes, in this case it happening by accident or serendipity depending on how you see it. The result is a delicious potato that makes incredible mashed potatoes like I had at Ko, or a vegetable frittata from Napili Kai. If you see this on the menu order it!

 

And while it seems like all I did was eat there was so much I missed out on: spam musubi, shaved ice and I couldn’t bring myself to try loco moco, a heavy blend of rice, fried egg, burger patty and gravy!

Maui is a really special place, it’s far more than beaches and golf courses. There is an incredible culture that is so strong and the first place to look is the food.

 

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Maui Visitors Bureau, they did not request that I write a positive review or pretend that I like poi because honestly while I think you should try it I’ll be surprised if you like it.

Join the Conversation

  1. Did you try Pigs Feet Soup?

    I have a terrible story that revolves around trying Pigs Feet Soup while I was in Hawaii (well before my Pescetarian days).

    Copious Amounts of Tequila + Pigs Feet Soup.

    I think you can do the math. =)

    Fun times!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I missed pigs feet soup?? I love pickled pigs feet I am so disappointed.

  2. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Oh my, POG is what I miss most about Hawaii. And being the sweet potato lover that I am–I cook with those bad boys at least a couple times a week–how have I not sampled #12?!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I may miss the Moloka’i sweet potatoes the most knowing I can’t get them anywhere else.

  3. Meg | One Love Meg says:

    It all looks delicious!! I have taken on a chef job here in France at a Bed and Breakfast. Needless to say it has allowed me to pack on a few lbs!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You have? You must write about it I’d love to hear your stories.

  4. SO much deliciousness! 🙂 I’d try everything on your list – not always the case with new foods. 🙂 That pork sounds absolutely divine. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There were really few things I didn’t love on Maui and you can’t like all food!

  5. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) says:

    The Malasadas look delicious! But then again, I thought the Poi looked like it would be good, too. It’s a shame I’m not more of a seafood fan. Most of it makes me quite ill, which sadly limits me from experiencing the cuisine and character of many cultures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear that, there is a lot of great pork on the island too.

  6. Sign me up for POG and that sweet potato – oh and of course fresh seafood. Sounds pretty wonderful to me.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Growing up on the East Coast I am very particular about fish but when it’s this fresh it’s hard to screw up.

  7. Christine says:

    Ahhhh I get so excited on the plane over to Maui when they serve POG!!! My favorite!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn’t even think to ask for it on the plane!

  8. Wuoh..I’m currently drooling over my keyboard at my desk..and it’s only 11AM. Lunch time cannot come any sooner! Awesome pictures!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It helps when the food looks this good.

  9. Patrick Jacob says:

    Wow! what are these delicious food for me. I’m very excited to your attractive presentation. Also thanks for these excellent photos.

  10. Everything looks delish! I would try everything you wrote about here. I eat about almost anything! Lomi lomi salmon looks refreshing.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I love salmon but there was something on it I didn’t care for, but I’ll try anything once and most things twice.

  11. Waegook Tom says:

    After getting to number four, I hoped everything would begin with or feature the letter P in its name…alas, it was not meant to be.

    Seriously though, POG for breakfast sounds amazing and that pork…well, anything with pork is good in my book.

    That fish burger (that’s what it is, right?) looks FANTASTIC. I could sure use some of that right now.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The fish burger was just some diner joint, it didn’t look special at all but the fish was amazing.

  12. Caanan @ No Vacation Required says:

    When you visit Seattle next time, we will take you to a restaurant in our hood that has A-MAH-ZING Saimin. Pork Belly, Fish Cakes…

    Of course, it would be better if we could enjoy it in magical Maui!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Then let’s all go back to Maui!

  13. Alexandra says:

    No Spam Musubi… Girl you missed out on one of Hawaii’s most iconic dishes! Guess you will just have to come back 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s the intention!

  14. What a great post. 🙂 I wish I took advantage of Hawaii when I had relatives living there. Ah well. I can still visit, I suppose. 🙂

    Amazing photos. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If I had relatives there I would go all the time, I was actually surprised at how cheap flights are.

      1. Really? I had the opposite effect. The flights were very expensive. I guess it depends on where you live. Location, location, location.

  15. laura @ spicybuddha.com says:

    Ah, I just moved out of Hawai’i after living there for 5 years…this post brought back a lot of great memories. What I would do for some poke and Moloka’i sweet potato! Love your blog, especially the beautiful photos 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well you can make poke at home! Alas there is no substitute for the Moloka’i sweet potato.

  16. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    This post (especially the Malasadas) has just made me uber-excited about going to Maui for the first time in two weeks! I hope to eat everything on your list 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So many delicious things on Maui and this post was just the start.

  17. Federico says:

    What? And you missed Spam??? 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know! I kept asking around for the best place because I have NEVER eaten it and then I just ran out of time.

  18. dtravelsround says:

    That juice sounds like such a refreshing combo! And, as for the poi, I LOVE taro. But, not sure if this could work for me. Will have to try it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You have to try it, no one says you have to like it!

  19. It’s not very typical hawaiian, but I had the most perfect wonderful bagel with egg and cheese in Maui. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant- it was a little cafe near the Banana Boat Hostel. The chef personally brought the creation out to me and kept checking on me to make sure I loved it. It was his work of art or something! I never knew one could take that good.
    In any case, I strongly believe that we should explore the food when we travel and not worry at all about diets, gaining weight, etc. Sounds like you took full advantage of all the great food!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I stayed at the Banana Boat too, but just for two nights, but it’s such a cute end of town.

  20. I had my Poi experience on the islands. The first time I hated it. Then I had it at Roy’s on Oahu and whatever the chef did to it, was amazing. I love Kahlua Pork, it is my favorite.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hmm what do you think made it different? Was it still glutinous?

  21. I’m so hungry right now after reading this…food was my favourite part of Maui too!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Food is my favourite part of any place.

  22. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    Looks like my kind of food. Would love to try that Moloka’i Sweet Potato.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You’d love it.

  23. Emily in Chile says:

    I was impressed by how good the food was last time we were in Hawaii. That Kahlua pork sounds really good, I wish we’d had that too!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You didn’t have it? The next time you are in Hawaii it is a MUST.

  24. One delicious dish after another. I love this kind of food.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well all except the poi…

  25. Oh, lordy, I’m drooling. Seriously love this post.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You’re in Mexico, go out and eat a churro!

  26. Hawaii really has the best food ever. I still dream of Poke. And I eat Spam Musubi at home sometimes. haha

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Do you make it? Where do you get it?

  27. Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations – I especially love all the tropical fruit, poke and the saimin noodles.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My favourites as well – and of course the pork.

  28. Jeremy Branham says:

    I’ve been to Hawaii three times and haven’t heard of most of these. I guess I need to explore the food options a little more 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Jeremy you’re indifference to food is hilarious. We must eat together some time, I will convert you!

  29. Christy @ Technosyncratic says:

    Mmm, I love sweet potatoes, so I can’t wait to try the kind in Hawaii. And is that mangosteen I see in one of the photos?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Why yes it is, you have a keen eye!

  30. Shanna Schultz says:

    The Kahlua pork looks amazing…thanks for making me salivate!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You can always count on me for that.

  31. That food looks amazing! Lucky you’ve been so active as well… you’ll need to burn off quite a few calories! 🙂

  32. I tried about half of these foods when I was in Hawaii. I really loved the ahi and the potatoes.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So delicious, nothing better than the ahi.

  33. I’m delighted to find this today! We are heading to Maui in just 2 days so this is just perfect! Can I say this made me extra excited to go? 🙂

  34. Liliana May says:

    I can’t wait to try all of this when I go to Hawaii! It’s great to get tips of the best things to eat before going. I like how the food really does seem a blend of different cultures too. Thanks!

  35. Very complete list of incredible Maui deliciousness! I miss my home! Especially the poke! 😉

  36. Only have delicious things, very good, the post, thank you

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