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Traditional Hawaiian Food

Traditional Hawaiian Food
Traditional Hawaiian Food pictures (1 of 9)

When I travel, you will most likely find me in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, run-down eateries, or markets that offer traditional and authentic local foods. Nowadays, food has defined where I travel to, and eating local is a big part of all my travels. Through local cuisines, I’ve come to learn–and appreciate–the unique culture, traditions, and heritage that represent the places I go to. Eating local food is also a nod to the many dedicated and passionate mom-and-pop chefs who feverishly preserve their culinary identity and legacy through the foods they serve, and Ono Hawaiian Foods is one such restaurant…(learn more about traditional Hawaiian food after the jump)

When it comes to traditional Hawaiian food, the mental picture of luau springs to mind instantly. Luau is basically a Hawaiian feast that features local foods, hula dances, and island music. The foods offered at Ono consist of luau foods (sans the festive luau, dances, and music) and other ala carte local dishes.

We had a combination plate–a traditional Hawaiian food sampler–with six dishes: kalua pig, laulau chicken, pipikaula, lomi salmon, haupia, and poi. Poi is the staple Hawaiian food–a mixture of taro root (or corm) with water. The corm is cooked, peeled, and then mashed by hands using a stone pestle until a desired sticky consistency is reached. Water is added during the process. Poi is mostly eaten like rice, where you take a bite of a savory food such as kalua pig, laulau, or lomi salmon and follow it with a taste of poi.

Out of all the dishes we had, I especially enjoyed the laulau chicken. Wrapped with layers of taro leaves (yes, they are edible and taste like watercress but with a distinct aroma), laulau is steamed for hours. As a result, the meat contained inside the parcel–either pork or chicken–becomes exceedingly tender and juicy with the chicken meat practically falling off the bones. It was simply delicious!

The kalua pig was pretty good, too, with pulled pork kind of consistency. Poke, or raw fish mixed with seaweed, is another renowned island dish. Lomi salmon (or lomi-lomi salmon) is a tomato and salmon salad. Pipikaula are slices of beef jerky, and haupia is a pleasing local dessert with coconut milk and milk.

There you have it, traditional Hawaiian food that is humble but rich in characteristics and unique in its own sense. Please check out the gallery above to view individual item.

Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Avenue
Phone: 808-737-2275
Open Monday-Saturday 11:00 am to 8:00pm
Closed Sundays
Cash only


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24 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. This looks delicious! I’m a regular reader for your Asian recipes but live on Tahiti so I was excited to see some Polynesian food here. This is similar to our Tahitian style food – I have a few recipes on my blog http://coconutradio.bogspot.com (the poisson cru is the best) with pictures and am hoping to add some more over time.

  2. Wow – what an interesting post. I’ve never been to Hawaii so I’ve got no idea what the traditional food could be or taste like. The poke looks interesting – do you eat it with a sauce like sashimi with soy or just straight chunks of raw fish?

  3. linda

    Which Island are these restaurants located in? My husband and I are going to Maui and would love to visit some of the recommended restaurants.

  4. psychomom

    i went to ono the last time we went to hawaii. lines were long but was worth the wait. also had the malassadas. my all time favorite is the poke (wish i had sushi grade tuna and the seaweed to make it). did you try the spam “musubi?” i is spam on top of sushi rice and wrapped in seaweed. i ate that daily for breakfast when i was there.

  5. jwalker

    I can’t think of Hawaii without the exquisite memory of eating the best poke of my life, in our car during a torrential rainstorm. An incredible tiny take-out only place next to a gas station where they whip up your poke on the spot, any style you like, in Waikiki … right around the corner from a slamming malasada joint. mmmm…

  6. Bobbi Ysmael

    I just wanted to let you know that I tried your Sweet and Sour Sauce and it was excellent. Thank you so much

    Bobbi Ysmael

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