As an avid seafood eater — I’m in an Oyster lovers meet up group — one thing several people told me when I mentioned I was heading to Hawaii was “You’re going to love the fresh seafood!” And with tons of poke focused restaurants recently opening up in NYC, Hawaiian cuisine was definitely on my radar. So I ate my way through Kaua’i and Waikiki, here are some of my favorite stops along the way.
Everyone knows about Hawaii’s history with Dole and obviously pineapples but there are so many other amazing fruits native to this Pacific island nation that keep my esoteric fruit tastes satiated. One of the islands I stayed on this summer, lush Kaua’i, is known for it’s fruit production — I even made a friend who worked on a noni farm. You can hear more about him in last week’s Never Date A Traveler. Here’s one of the amazing fruits he
brought me, soursop. My uncle makes the best soursop juice, pretty popular in Jamaica and it’s also a very popular drink in Colombia called guanábana. Imagine strawberry with the tang of pineapple, taste of banana and coconut, and you have this delicious fruit with many healing properties.
The breakfast spread at the new Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua Bay was also pretty delicious with native Kaua’i gems as well, delicious big isle longan, apple bananas, rambutan, poha berries (you might know them as gooseberries) and lychee!
As I mentioned, I was thrilled to try the poke in Hawaii. I make a pretty damn good tuna ceviche so poke, a similar style Hawaiian take on the raw fish salad is right up my alley. One of my favorite pokes I had was on the island of Oahu at a delicious restaurant in Waikiki, Roy’s. Hawaiian traditional style ahi tuna, sweet with a hint of spice, it was absolutely delicious. Another must while at Roy’s? Misoyaki Butterfish. Sweet ginger wasabi beurre blanc, this fish was so delicious it absolutely melted in your mouth.
A great spot with a delicious spicy poke that can’t be missed in Kaua’i is The Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei. A yummy local spot on the banks of the Hanalei river, open since the 1970s. There’s even a fish market on site so you know you’re getting the best cuts.
Another First – A Puka Dog!
Another culinary must while in Kaua’i is trying a
puka dog at its namesake restaurant. It’s not a corn dog, it’s not a hot dog, but is sweet
and savory and is one of the most
sensational fast food snacks you’ll ever have.
You know when you get an intense craving? At least once a month, I need ramen. While staying at the new Hilton Garden Inn in Waikiki, I often passed a ramen shop around the corner with lines down the street, Marukame Udon. Most of my meals were planned but one afternoon I had some downtime so braved the line for some ramen to go. Annnnnd maybe some Japanese fried chicken. It was GLORIOUS and well worth it. Definitely a must when you’re in Waikiki.
Know Where Your Meal is Coming From
There’s nothing like eating fresh and local, it tastes better, you feel better and there’s a wonderful piece of mind knowing where your food is coming from. Restaurant Heavenly in Waikiki Beach has set the new bar for farm to table. Their policy is “local first, organic whenever possible.” The first page of the menu maps out the Hawaiian Islands with arrows pointing to where menu ingredients are sourced, from the pork from the Shinsato farm in Ko’olau, Oahu to the honey from Big Island Bees on Big Island. My favorites on the menu: the Pitaya Bowl served with the local fruit of the day, coconut milk, honey and granola; a mouth watering Eggs Benedict with yummy Hawaiian pulled pork; and an Energy smoothie with acai, strawberries, blueberries, banana and soy milk.
I hope this delicious list whets your appetite for Thanksgiving!