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Popular Hawaiian dishes

7 Popular Hawaiian Dishes

Go to Hawaii for the surfing and scenery, stay for the amazing cuisine. Hawaiian food is packed with flavor and has a unique mix of influences and ingredients. Most eateries have a laid-back, casual ambiance with no dress codes. Taste your way across the islands on your Hawaii cruise with this list of seven popular Hawaiian dishes.

7 Popular Hawaiian Dishes

1. Poke

Poke, a raw-fish salad, is finally having its long-overdue moment on the mainland, but it has been a staple in Hawaii forever. There are many variations. Find poke everywhere from gas stations to fine-dining restaurants. Traditional Hawaiian poke comprises cubes of raw tuna, salmon, or even octopus served over warm rice and topped with veggies and seasonings. It is a customizable dish and a great lunch option.

2. Shave Ice

Shave ice is more than your run-of-the-mill snow-cone. This refreshing treat has origins in Japan, brought over from immigrants working sugar and pineapple plantations in the 1800s. Often garnished with coconut and mochi, shave ice features real fruit syrup. To sweeten your shave ice, get it topped with Waialua chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Note: don’t call it shaved ice.

3. Saimin

Saimin, Hawaii’s national dish, is a soup with thin wheat noodles and a dashi broth with shrimp, pork and eggs. Japanese, Chinese and Filipino cultural influences come together in a flavorful blend served hot and eaten with chopsticks. If you need a comfort food, you can buy saimin as a pre-mix in stores.

4. Poi

Poi or Poipoi is a traditional Hawaiian dish thought to have originated in the Marquesas Islands. It is a popular luau food, a delectable breakfast main and a great dipping sauce. Taro root is cooked in a pit and then mashed on a wooden pounding board. When fresh, it takes on a sweet flavor and is served as a dessert. When left to ferment, it develops a sour, yogurt-like taste and is eaten alongside salted fish, salmon or poke.

5. Musubi

Musubi is a ubiquitous Hawaiian dish. It is a neat presentation of packed rice topped with meat or fish and then wrapped with seaweed. Spam musubi is the most popular version, but there are varieties with Portuguese sausage, katsu and even a thin omelet. Try musubi when you’re on-the-go, no utensils needed.

6. Kalua Pig

Kalua is a method of cooking that involves an underground oven called an imu. Kalua pig is a common featured Hawaiian dish at luaus in Honolulu and on other islands. The pig is covered in sea salt and cooks in the ground for about 8 hours. The result is succulent, tender meat.

7. Hawaiian Cake

Follow a savory Hawaiian dish with a slice of cake. Chantilly cake is a moist chocolate cake with a creamy frosting and a crunchy layer of macadamia nuts on top. Haupia (how-pee-a) is a dessert made from coconut milk cut into squares. Guava cake, a pink cake made from guava is another crowd-pleaser.


The aloha spirit continues on board with our cooking classes and tastings. Book Hawaii and Tahiti cruises to get a taste of the islands.