I'm just here for the Poke...
Aloha. We are in Hawaii - more precisely on the islands of Kaua'i, O'ahu & Maui.
The scenic beauty is outstanding and all in all I can say: Yes, the long journey from Europe pays off. ;)
For me, Hawaii has long been a place of longing and an absolute final destination on my personal travel hit list. A dream come true that I'm finally fulfilling with this trip?
Find out more about Hawaii in my podcast: (german only!)
Here we go with culinary insights for now. I'm looking forward to the exotic local fruits and the world-famous poke bowls. Typically Hawaiian, isn't it?
Classics of the local cuisine:
Typical of Hawaii is a wild ensemble of international recipes. This culinary mix reflects the diverse history of settlement and immigration in the Hawaiian Islands. Polynesians, Europeans and Americans first populated the region and introduced new foods (e.g.: taro). As the agricultural sector grew, so did the need for labour, so immigrant groups from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico as well as Portugal came to the islands. ...& with them came new culinary dishes.
Today, the cuisine combines all of Hawaii's historical influences into a new fusion cuisine, using locally grown ingredients. The variety and freshness of the ingredients is therefore remarkable and due to the balanced tropical climate, products such as coffee, pineapples, papayas, bananas, lychees & Co. can be found almost all year round.
Here is a small selection of delicacies:
Snacks/starters: Taro Chips (crispy fried taro slices), pupus (fried shrimps, onion rings or marinated salmon), poke (raw fish salad)
Main dish: Plate Lunch (Hawaiian lunch), Kalua pig (earth oven baked pork), Loco Moco (rice with beef pattie, fried egg and gravy), Fish: Ahi (tuna type) and Mahimahi (dolphinfish), Laulau (pork wrapped in banana leaves), ...
Dessert: Banana bread on Maui, haupia (coconut pudding), shave ice (made by "shaving" a block of ice and seasoning with syrup & other sweet ingredients), ....
Drinks: Coffee, cocktails (especially: Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian, Pina Colada), Californian wines, ...
When I was fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii, one thing immediately came to mind: poke bowls. Only then did Jurassic Park-like settings and warm beaches follow. Poke has been popular in Hawaii for a long time, and now numerous restaurants around the globe have dedicated themselves to this dish. Healthy bowls are the order of the day and the dish has gone global.
Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is nothing more than a salad of diced raw fish marinated in sesame oil or soy sauce. Traditionally, it is made from "ahi" (yellowfin tuna).
While poke is eaten as a main course in Europe, the Hawaiians appreciate it as a refreshing appetiser, especially in the summer months. Taro chips are often served with it - as in the picture. Taro is a type of tuber that somewhat resembles manioc or cassava. The crop is native to the tropics and subtropics and let me tell you: roasted taro chips / fries taste delicious.
Back to the poke! No matter what side dish is served with it, the nuts and bolts of any bowl is outstanding quality fish. Inland Maui has some of the highest quality fish in the world, so it's no surprise that this dish is my absolute food highlight. Yep, that's why I'm here.... Even Hawaii's iconic shave ice can't compete.
Michaelas-Must-Try: I also love bowls in my kitchen at home. Here in a low carb version with prawns and delicious dressing.
Poke has been popular in Hawaii for a long time and numerous restaurants around the world are now dedicated to this dish.
Michaelas Video-Message: In my TikTok video you can see my "What I eat in a day" edition from Hawaii.
F&B offer: Hungry mouths will usually find what they are looking for here. On hikes / excursions, however, I would take a small snack myself, although the quality in the simple food trucks at the roadside was convincing.
Meal times: Breakfast (7:00 - 9:00): I read that pineapple skewers are popular for breakfast. However, this probably applies primarily to tourists here in Hawaii and locally, cereals or hearty dishes like "Loco Moco" (=rice, beef patty, fried egg and gravy) were conspicuously popular. Lunch (12:00 - 14:00): Plate Lunch is a kind of lunch dish and quite typical. The main ingredients are rice and macaroni salad. It is accompanied by chicken, fish, teriyaki beef or "kalua pork" (= pork baked in an earth oven). Dinner (18:30 - 20:00): Hawaiians are good eaters and "big" dishes often end up on the table in the evening - usually with fish or meat.
Price-performance ratio: Hawaii is one of our most expensive trips. Basic Airbnb accommodation is close to a mid-range to upscale star hotel in Germany; food and restaurant prices are far more expensive than on the mainland and in Europe. Cappuccino in Amsterdam ca. 4 Eur. Cappuccino auf Hawaii ca. 5 Eur.
Striking on site:
Especially on the island of Kaua'i, there are many wild chickens. There, they perform their Kräh-Lauta from as early as 2 am.
Although Shave Ice is a national pride, you will never find such a dessert in the restaurant.
A market, a café, a restaurant? This place combines all these amenities in equal measure and offers healthy options for everyday life. It offers socially conscious produce and quality ingredients from local farmers, ranchers and artisans. I highly recommend this place and the Ahi Poke as a starter.
Here, the service and the interior were "okay". But a sensational view of the ocean and outstanding food are guaranteed. Fresh fish from the Pacific and great cocktails rocked the evening. I had a Hawaiian-inspired gazpacho, a grilled fish platter with ono, butterfish & ahi and a beguiling Mai Tai. Reservations were a must for us.
A quick, uncomplicated and healthy stop is recommended here. The company was founded on the principle that healthy and tasty food should be easily accessible while supporting the local economy. As we drove by, we reached for their Grab&Co selection. Delicious, healthy & practical: I like!
Those who come to Maui to find their personal place of longing will probably not find it in Lahaina. Here, the tourists bustle on the streets and the place often seems very staged. How nice that this pretty café creates some peace from the hustle and bustle and spoils its guests with delicious coffee and food. Please note: the café closes at 13:00.
We had extremely good sushi and delicious drinks in the Japanese restaurant. We also tried the in-house Nuka Bowls, which unfortunately didn't really meet our taste because of the dressing. However, the sushi - especially at lunchtime - is worth a visit and is therefore mentioned in my blog. NUKA says that supporting local farms and fishermen is both a priority and a responsibility. As often as possible, they try to bring local and seasonal ingredients to the table.
egionality and seasonality are also important in this restaurant. Amidst pineapple fields, the food is cooked with fresh vegetables from local farms. Bev Gannon, a well-known local chef and co-founder of Hawaiian regional cuisine, once started this place and it was an honour to dine here. Catch of the day was mahi mahi, which was sensationally delicious in my fish curry with vegetables. The waitress was extremely friendly as well as competent and even managed to convince us for the famous pineapple upside-down cake "to go".
The drinks and food were good, the setting was better. The Edge of Waikiki is not just a bar - it's an award-winning infinity pool at the Sheraton Hotel. Here you have a breathtaking view of Waikiki.
At Arvo you can sip good coffee in a hip setting. People queue up - not only for the coffee, but also for the manageable and super tasty brunch menu. With the "Arvo" lifestyle, the coffee is even merchandising and is very popular.
The poke bowls are first class. The raw fish is top-notch and for a simple snack, the quality is top-notch.
I LOVE poke bowls, so a visit to Mama Kim's was a must. I bravely tried their specials and who would have thought it: even the Natto dish won me over. Chapeau! Natto is healthy, but not really my cup of tea. Here, the health incentive seems to be quite big in general and they proudly produce homemade kimchi.
The cocktails taste even better in this casual ambience. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the famous Diamond Head, just a few steps away from the world-famous Waikiki beach. A rather "fancy place". I recommend a visit during happy hour (between 2:00 - 4:00 am) - the food and drinks are up to 40% off.
If you don't care much for raw fish, this is the place for you. Pancakes, avo toasts or Instagram-friendly pineapple smoothies: there's something for everyone on this menu. The café is located directly on Waikiki - but unfortunately only looks like the "perfect beach café" at first glance. Staff shortages and mediocre taste marred the experience.
My conclusion: I came for the poke. I enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients, and as I reminisce, I will think of the picturesque landscape and our exciting hiking trips.
Note: I paid for my stay on site including accommodation, entrance fees and food myself. This is what my recommendations and tips refer to. This article is not subject to any cooperation.