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Innovative Island Cuisine

If, like most of us, your vacation is an excuse to let down your hair diet-wise, you'll find plenty of delicious opportunities to eat your way through Oahu.

In Honolulu's best hotels and finest restaurants, some of the world's top culinary talent cook up sumptuous, often quite expensive meals. But, there is also fine eating for every budget in a wide variety of ethnic restaurants -- Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Korean.

Located at a crossroads of East and West, Hawaii has absorbed almost all of the great cooking traditions of the world -- and developed its own unique cuisine as well. During the past decade, a number of young Hawaiian chefs of varying ethnic backgrounds have created Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, a version of Pacific Rim Cuisine that blends a variety of ethnic influences and incorporates fresh, island-grown ingredients such as fish, tropical fruits, taro, sweet onions, and other fresh vegetables.

This is not the same Hawaiian food you'll find at a traditional luau -- kalua pig (roasted in an underground imu or oven), stewed chicken, laulau (pork or chicken steamed in leaves), lomi salmon -- or in a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch -- a meat selection, macaroni salad, two scoops of white rice, and poi (mashed taro root). In addition to flavor, local food tends to be loaded with fat, but if you're willing to fall off the diet wagon, go for a luau buffet or plate lunch now and then. And don't leave Hawaii without at least trying poi. This pale purple paste, made of ground taro, is an acquired taste for non-Hawaiians, but a much beloved staple in the islands.

Yes, you can get your burgers and fries, but you can get that on the Mainland. Go for the fresh island fish like ahi, mahimahi, ono, opakapaka. Be daring -- a gastronomical adventure awaits you!