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A delicious dish from a restaurant in Oahu

Hawaii

5 Ways to Taste Oahu

By: Heather Lalley

Lucky Belly
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  • States:
    Hawaii

Oahu is Hawaii's island of city and country settings, with culinary diversity to match.

Award-winning chefs create masterpieces with fresh ingredients sourced locally. Restaurants serve fare from traditional Hawaiian foods to ethnic delights reflecting Hawaii's cultural melting pot. Food trucks, farmers markets and food events create epicurean excitement. Experience a sensory journey on beautiful Oahu by following these five suggestions.

1. Traditional Tastes

Share savory lau lau and delicate poi at a traditional, festive luau. Or on your own, discover other Hawaiian classics, such as lomi lomi salmon and squid luau at Highway Inn, Haile's or Ono Hawaiian Foods. Visit an okazuya, a traditional Japanese deli, for furikake chicken. And sample Oahu's other melting-pot cuisine such as saimin (Hawaii's Chinese noodle soup) and manapua (Chinese steamed bun) stuffed with kalua pork.

Taste traditional Hawaiian foods at luaus, delis and local favorite restaurants on Oahu.

Taste traditional Hawaiian foods at luaus, delis and local favorite restaurants on Oahu.
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Takahiro Masuda/Oahu Visitors Bureau
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2. Contemporary Cuisine

Oahu embraces contemporary trends as much as traditional dishes. The island is home to James Beard Foundation favorites including Chef Mavro restaurant and Alan Wong’s, and new-generation chefs are taking farm-to-table cooking to new levels. Sample outstanding seasonal menus at Town, Kaimuki Superette, The Pig & the Lady and Livestock Tavern. And don’t miss Koko Head Café, with fusion specialties such as Black Sesame Yuzu Muffins, or 12th Ave Grill for smoked ahi spread.

A new generation of restaurants is taking farm-to-table cooking to new levels, including Dusty Grable's Livestock Tavern. (For a late-night snack, try Grable's Lucky Belly for irresistible ramen.)

A new generation of restaurants is taking farm-to-table cooking to new levels, including Dusty Grable's Livestock Tavern. (For a late-night snack, try Grable's Lucky Belly for irresistible ramen.)
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Livestock Tavern

3. Farm-to-Drink Cocktails

Oahu’s creative mixologists infuse the island’s bounty in unique cocktails. Sample the fusion of flavors with The Kitchen Cocktail at Mud Hen Water, created with ingredients from Oahu’s local farmers. Enjoy a classic with a twist such as the Lilikoi Mule at Manifest, featuring island grown passion fruit. At the Ko Olina resort area, unwind with Monkeypod Kitchen’s signature Mai Tai, crafted with house-made macadamia nut rosewater.

4. Food Festivals

Every September, master chefs from around Hawaii, the U.S. and the Pacific Rim share their menus at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, a multi-day extravaganza that is Hawai‘i’s premier epicurean event. Enjoy the local food scene at events such as Eat the Street food truck festivals (held near-monthly), the Waikīkī Spam Jam in May, nearly two dozen year-round farmers markets and food tours including Aloha Plate Food Tours and Aloha Food Tours.

The annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is Hawaii's premier epicurean event.

The annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is Hawaii's premier epicurean event.
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Travis Okimoto

5. Local Snacks

Need to refuel after sightseeing? Grab a quick bite at one of Oahu’s many snack shops or bakeries. You might choose:

  • Malasada: a Portuguese-style doughnut
  • Poke: fresh, raw fish cut into cubes and marinated in a variety of styles
  • Loco Moco: plate lunch with rice, hamburger and eggs smothered with gravy
  • Coco Puff: pastry puff filled with chocolate and topped with Chantilly
  • Haupia: sweet coconut cream custard dessert

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