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Culinary

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Food Culture in Hawaii

With our bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant upland cattle farms and Pacific Ocean waters teeming with sashimi-grade fish, Hawaiian cuisine is a beautiful tapestry of flavors and traditions. Here, ancient customs meet global influences brought to Hawaii over many generations, giving our local food culture more layers than a Maui onion. From farm-to-table Hawaii Regional Cuisine to traditional feasts fit for ke alii (royalty), you’ll find delicious culinary treasures on every Hawaiian island.
 
Oahu, known as The Gathering Place, is nothing short of a foodie paradise, and in the past few years Honolulu has emerged as one of the major culinary meccas in the U.S. Stroll through foodie ’hoods like Kakaako, Kaimuki and Chinatown to discover a melting pot of trendy eateries and mom-and-pop diners dishing up local specialties like plate lunch and loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy). From downtown Honolulu to Waikiki, book a table at one of the iconic fine-dine restaurants that put Hawaiian cuisine on the map, including Roy’s and Chef Mavro.
 
If your travels take you to Kauai, assemble an epic Hawaiian-style picnic at the island’s famed sunshine markets, and treat yourself to a memorable meal at hotspots like Merriman’s or Eating House 1849. Maui’s mix of roadside food stands and gourmet restaurants is enhanced by the abundant produce grown in the island’s Kula region. The island of Hawaii offers dining choices as diverse as its landscapes; just remember to finish your meal with a cup of homegrown Kona coffee. And don’t let the smaller populations of Lanai and Molokai fool you: these deeply rooted islands serve up tons of local flavor – from pillowy doughnuts and fresh bread at Kanemitsu’s Bakery in Kaunakakai to high-end sushi from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Lanai.

Food festivals throughout the Hawaiian Islands showcase our local food scenes. Prestigious events like the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival and Kapalua Wine & Food Festival gather top-notch chefs, sommeliers and winemakers from around Hawaii (and the world). From poi to pancakes, learn all about the “staff of life” at the East Maui Taro Festival, and sample a real Hawaiian delicacy in all its forms at the Waikiki Spam Jam. The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is good to the last drop, while beloved events like the Maui Onion Festival, Lanai Pineapple Festival and Kauai Coconut Festival pay homage to our local crops. 
 
Speaking of celebrated chefs, you can even dine at restaurants run by two former Top Chef contestants: Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Café in Honolulu and fan-favorite Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof in Kahului, Maui. And of course, a trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without experiencing the sensory delights of an authentic luau – nightly celebrations of our islands’ rich culture and cuisine that are nothing short of ono (delicious).

Farm-to-Table Hawaii

Farms and Agriculture

Each Hawaiian Island has its own agricultural region, from Upcountry Maui to the rich volcanic soil on the island of Hawaii. Pay a visit to our many farms and ranches to see our farm-to-table traditions in action.

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Farmers Markets

Sweet lilikoi (passion fruit). Succulent pineapples. Even fresh-baked banana bread and local macadamia nuts. Held just about every day of the week, Hawaii's farmers markets give new meaning to the word "fresh."

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Hawaii Regional Cuisine

The farm-to-table philosophy is central to Hawaii’s defining cuisine. Founded by 12 pioneering chefs, Hawaii Regional Cuisine uses fresh island ingredients – including locally caught fish and more fruits and vegetables than you can name – to create an exciting fusion of flavors.

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Hawaiian Luau

No trip to Hawaii is complete without attending one of these traditional celebrations of food and culture. Feast on kalua pork cooked in an imu (underground oven), laulau (beef, pork, chicken or fish wrapped in taro leaves) and poi (taro starch) while hula dancers tell stories through their graceful movements. 

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Explore Food in Hawaii

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Red Salt Dining Room
Kauai
Red Salt
2251 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Red Salt’s diverse menu by acclaimed Executive Chef and Kauai native Noelani Planas celebrates fresh Hawaiian seafood and produce in a casual, yet sophisticated seaside atmosphere.

Websites
Gaylord's Ribs
Kauai
Gaylord's at Kilohana
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Gaylord’s offers one of Kauai’s most beautiful settings for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Our kitchen uses only the freshest, seasonal ingredients supporting our local farmers and fishermen. Our 67-acre sustainable farm provides much of the produce and herbs used in our dishes and cocktails.

Websites
Lava Lava Beach Club Beachfront
Kauai
Lava Lava Beach Club
420 Papaloa Road
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

Located in the hip new Kauai Shores Hotel in Kapa'a on the Coconut Coast of beautiful Kauai. Lava Lava Beach Club is what you come to Hawaii for. Come get some sand between your toes! Creative cocktails, casual laid-back fare, delicious entrees on the beach with live musicians entertaining nightly.

Websites
Pupus and mai tais
Kauai
Tasting Kauai
Summary

Tasting Kauai invites residents and visitors on a culinary romp through paradise. Learn how to buy local through educational and fun events while connecting with Kauai’s culture, aloha, people and land. A portion of all book and tour sales are donated to the Hawaii Food Bank - Kauai Branch.

Websites
Grinding cacao beans into chocolate
Kauai
Garden Island Chocolate
5-2719 Kuhio Highway
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

Garden Island Chocolate is the premier gourmet Hawaiian chocolate company. We make organic dark chocolate bars,(85% cacao) chocolate truffles and a hot chocolate drink. We have guided chocolate farm tours and tastings every Mon, Wed, & Friday at 9:30am. The tours are very popular so book in advance.

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