When asked, “what do you miss most about Hawaiʻi?” the first thought that comes to my mind is food. With Hawaiʻi being so diverse in cultures, there’s no denying the fact that we truly do live up to our label of the “melting pot” state. With such diversity found in Hawaiʻi, there’s no surprise that Hawaiʻi is home to some of the best local foods, or as kamaʻaina* like to call it, local grinds. These local grinds are not only delicious, but are the perfect combination of diversity, cultures, and of course, the aloha spirit. Three local grinds that are Hawaiʻi favorites, as well as my favorites, are acai bowls, poke bowls, and shave ice.
Acai bowls are a sorbet-like mixture of blended acai berries, fruits, and liquids topped with various toppings such as sliced fruits, granola, honey, toasted coconut, chocolate and yogurt chips, condensed milk, cookie dough, etc. The types of toppings on an acai bowl really depends on where you go and your taste preferences. My go-to and one of my favorite places to get an acai bowl from before church or after a sunrise hike is Diamond Head Cove Health Bar. My favorite is “Da Hawaiian” acai bowl which consists of acai topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, honey, bee pollen, and paʻiʻai (hand-pounded taro).
Poke bowls are raw, cubed ʻahi (Hawaiian tuna) fish mixed in various sauces consisting of ingredients such as shoyu (soy sauce), green and yellow onions, chili pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and limu (seaweed), just to name a few, served over a bed of hot rice. The ingredients in the sauces depends on the style and type of poke you like and prefer. My two favorite types of poke are spicy ʻahi and shoyu ʻahi. Spicy ʻahi is mixed with mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, tobiko (flying fish roe), and green and yellow onions. Shoyu ʻahi is mixed with shoyu, green and yellow onions, chili pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.
Shave ice is finely-shaved ice with flavored syrups poured on top with various toppings and add-ins such as ice cream, azuki (Japanese vine) beans, mochi (Japanese rice cake) balls, condensed milk, li hing mui (salty, dried plum) powder, creamy haupia (coconut pudding), and much more. My favorite flavors of shave ice are any cream-based syrups with condensed milk topping.
If you ever find yourself vacationing in Hawaiʻi, remember to try these local favorites!
*kamaʻaina – a long-term resident of Hawaiʻi