5 Must-Try Local Foods & Where to Find Them 

The island of Oahu is home to a diverse collection of cultures from around the world. We can thank the native and immigrant communities for sharing their unique cuisines and making the island such an exciting foodie destination. You can get a taste of authentic Hawaii by trying a variety of treats – from traditional to modern, and even mash-up combinations! Here’s the scoop on where to go and what to order: 

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Mark Kushimi

Kalua Pork

The Hawaiian tradition of cooking a whole pig in an imu (underground oven) yields tender, moist shredded pork. You’ll often see it as the star of the meal at a luau, or find it on the Tasting Plate at Highway Inn, and in stuffed-to-the-max breakfast burritos at Kono’s.

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Kirk Lee Aeder


These sweet pillowy doughnuts arrived on the island scene along with Portuguese laborers who came to work at Oahu’s plantations in the late 1800s. Pick up a dozen at Waikiki Market just down the street from Coconut Waikiki Hotel or at the famous Leonard’s Bakery in the Kapahulu neighborhood.   

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Daeja Fallas


This hand-held snack’s origin hails from Japan, but Hawaii put its own spin on it with – you guessed it – SPAM. Browse the dizzying array of rice balls at Musubi Cafe Iyasume from traditional to modern. Will you choose the Avocado Bacon SPAM musubi or the Fried Chicken Mayo musubi? 

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson


Developed during the plantation era in Hawaii, this soup gets its name from two Chinese words meaning: small and noodle. Traditional versions come garnished with green onion and a slice of kamaboko, but you’ll encounter toppings like SPAM, char siu, sliced egg, and shredded seaweed, too. Slurp saimin at Sekiya’s in Kaimuki or at the many Zippy’s locations around the island. 

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds


This Filipino yam is very on-trend right now. You’ll find it folded into everything from cake to tarts to parfaits. Splurge on bright purple desserts at Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats where you can try a halo-halo, a shave ice concoction with tropical fruits, sweet milk, and ice cream.


Header photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority / @HungryHipsters