Gallery: 14 Foods That Will Make You Wish You Lived on Oahu

Mai Tai
Mai Tai

It might be cliché, but it's the drink that's most associated with the island. The multi-hued beverage, darker towards the top thanks to the float of almond-scented orgeat, makes it a perfect match for watching the sunset over the ocean.

House Without a Key

2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu HI 96815
(map)
808-923-2311
halekulani.com

Mixed Plate
Mixed Plate

The best way to taste everything you'd get on a typical plate lunch is to order the plate with it all. The classic plate lunch comes with rice, macaroni salad, and the meat of your choice. The mixed plate shown here gives you a taste of BBQ steak, mahi mahi, and chicken. Look like a lot of food? Don't worry, this is just breakfast on Oahu.

Rainbow Drive-In

3308 Kanaina Avenue, Honolulu HI 96815
(map)
808-737-0177
rainbowdrivein.com

Opihi
Opihi

When it comes time to step outside the everyday and try some true island flavor, pick up some opihi, or 'island abalone'. These little limpets are a dangerous shellfish to harvest due to their ocean and beachside hangouts, but wildly popular among locals. It takes a bit of searching to find them on a menu or in a market, but adventurous eaters are rewarded with a softly yielding crunch and a slightly salty savory seafood snack.

Yama's Fish Market

2332 Young Street, Honolulu HI 96826
(map)
808-941-9994
yamasfishmarket.com

Poke
Poke

On an island where fresh fish is abundant, it's obvious that there will be a myriad of fish dishes, but what mainlanders can't be prepared for is the huge variety of raw fish salad, or poke, that's available. Every grocery store or market will have a dozen or more varieties on sale at any given time (and they're happy to sample), and even the diviest of restaurants will have a poke on the menu.

Poke Stop

95-1840 Meheula Parkway, Mililani HI 96789
(map)
808-676-8100
poke-stop.com

Cocoa Puff
Cocoa Puff

This chocolate-filled cream puff bears no resemblance to the cereal with which it shares a name, but it does have some of the same cuckoo-causing tendencies. Luckily Liliha Bakery keeps the ovens on until 10pm and the doors open all night, so nobody misses out on the macadamia nut Chantilly frosting that tops the pastry.

Liliha Bakery

515 North Kuakini Street, Honolulu HI 96817 (map)
808-531-1651
lilihabakeryhawaii.com

Butter Garlic Shrimp
Butter Garlic Shrimp

North Shore surfers and fresh seafood come together at the many shrimp trucks and shacks that dot the area. Each one serves its own version of the simple dish, and everyone's got their own opinion on which place makes it best. All of them serve up a sweet dish of plump shrimp, doused in butter flavored with garlic so beautifully browned, it looks like it has an island tan.

Romy's Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp

56-781 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku HI 96731
(map)
808-232-2202
romyskahukuprawns.org

Fried Rice (with Kim Chee and Lup Cheong)
Fried Rice (with Kim Chee and Lup Cheong)

The Asian influence on Hawaiian food is widespread and from a range of cultures, and each version of fried rice showcases a different one. The Side Street Inn offers this version--great for soaking up beer in their dive bar location--with 'the works,' which has Portuguese sausage, lup cheong (Chinese sausage), and kim chee (Korean pickled cabbage).

Side Street Inn

1225 Hopaka Street, Honolulu HI 96814
(map)
808-591-0253
sidestreetinn.com

Local Fish (Moi)
Local Fish (Moi)

Lessons learned from snorkeling: 30% of the fish in Hawaiian waters are endemic to Hawaii. That means while it's okay to be excited to try the mahi, or stoked on the shrimp, there's a whole world of new fish to try, like moi, a high-oil fish that makes a rich sushi option. Known as the "fish of kings," from its tradition as a food of Hawaiian royalty, this is a fish that's a good place to start your tasting trip.

Sushi Izakaya Gaku

1329 South King Street, Honolulu HI 96814
(map)
808-589-1329

Pasteles
Pasteles

Don't pronounce the 's', in the name, and you'll be ready to pick up a few of these tamale-like treats like a local. Handed down from Puerto Ricans that came to the island over a hundred years ago, the banana-based dough is darkened with spices and embedded bits of mystery meat.

Yama's Fish Market

2332 Young Street, Honolulu HI 96826
(map)
808-941-9994
yamasfishmarket.com

Spam Musubi
Spam Musubi

At every gas station mini-mart, every lunch counter, anywhere there's food to be grabbed, there's opportunity to pick-up the most iconic of Spam servings, the musubi. The sliced meat is rolled, with rice, into a wrapping of seaweed, possibly with a hit of furikake seasoning for extra flavor. Like an oversized meat sushi, the beauty of the dish comes from the contrast in texture and the matching of the meat spices and the salty seaweed.

Tamashiro Market

802 North King Street, Honolulu HI 96817
(map)
808-841-8047

Spam, in All Forms
Spam, in All Forms

It's no secret that residents of Hawaii eat more Spam per capita than any other state, but they are harboring the secret of making it delicious. It's found on most menus, and is usually worth a try. The late-night Spam omelet pictured here was no different, providing enough flavor for the eggs in the omelet and the accompanying rice.

Liliha Bakery

515 North Kuakini Street, Honolulu HI 96817 (map)
808-531-1651
lilihabakeryhawaii.com

Loco Moco
Loco Moco

Ostensibly Hawaii's signature dish, everywhere has its own spin (Spam loco, anyone?) but the original is available all over: white rice and a hamburger patty hiding under eggs (choose your style) and all of it doused in a rich brown gravy. With a side of mac salad, naturally.

Rainbow Drive-In

3308 Kanaina Avenue, Honolulu HI 96815
(map)
808-737-0177
rainbowdrivein.com

Japanese Specialties (Negihama Tartar)
Japanese Specialties (Negihama Tartar)

The connection between the Hawaiian and Japanese Islands is more than just heritage and tourism, it's in the food. From handmade soba noodles, to exquisitely presented sushi, Honolulu lays claim to some of the best Japanese food outside of Japan.

Sushi Izakaya Gaku

1329 South King Street, Honolulu HI 96814
(map)
808-589-1329 ‎

Portuguese Sausage
Portuguese Sausage

Found in all sorts of forms, like loco moco, fried rice, or musubi, this is popular morning meat (it's hard to find a breakfast menu without it). As the name makes clear, this spiced, cased meat comes from Portuguese settlers to island. It's similar to linguiça, but with a little island sweetness added. It works perfectly with biscuits and gravy, as shown here.

The Whole Ox Deli

327 Keawe Street, Honolulu HI 96813
(map)
808-699-6328
wholeoxdeli.com