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Must try Hawaiian specialty foods

Greetings everyone from Vancouver Canada,

We are thrilled to be going to Maui next week. We are foodies and interested in trying (and/or buying to take home) food items that are unique to the local market. It could be just a local ingredient, a unique hawaiian producer...anything special to the area that you think we absolutely need to "try before we die" ...things we can't eat or buy at home.

So far, I am aware of shaved ice, macadamia nuts, poke, lehua honey, kona coffee and crackseeds. I'm sure there is lots more.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts...and any suggestion or where to get the best would be awesome too!

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  1. If you are on maui you have to try Manju. Not made on any of the other islands. It is an adaptation of a japanese 'pastry' with red bean or other filling. Komoda Store and Home Maid Bakery used to be the best, but I haven't been on Maui in a very long time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      I second the manju. While I can't say that you absolutely need to "try before you die", another thing unique to Hawaii (well actually specific to Maui) is the dry mein at Sam Sato's. They also make their own manju as well.

    2. Hi, abondance:

      Pua'a kalua (pig baked in the imu-earth oven), poi, 100 fish and fruit you've never heard of, taro hashbrowns and chips, squid lu'au. Opihi (limpets), pa'akai (native salt), limu (seaweed), apple ma'i (banannas), boiled peanuts, loud Maui onion, blue sweetpotatoes, pineapple. Loco Moco. SPAM wasubi, chicken long rice, Huli-huli chicken, Lomilomi salmon, ika mata (fish cold-cooked in coconut milk and lime).


      PS Try Hali'imaile General Store for good grinds.

      1. Poke-raw ahi tuna with seasonings and spices including sesame, soy, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, etc.

        It's a variation of tuna tartare, so probably not technically, Hawaiian specialty, but I had never tried it until I was in Hawaii and it is everywhere there. There are tons of different varieties and it makes for a perfect light lunch or dinner. The fish is so fresh and it is very refreshing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Poke is indeed an indigenous food. just as many cultures prepare meat in similar manners, many cultures have preparations for raw fish. Poke, tartare, sashimi, ceviche, etc.

        2. Dry Saimin at Sam Sato's is one of our annual trip pleasures http://tastyislandhawaii.com/2009/06/...

          Sam Sato's
          1750 Wili PA Loop, Wailuku, HI 96793

          1. Lots of ideas here:

            Definitely get some Golden Glow mangoes from Yee's Orchard. They rival the mangoes I've had from India and Taiwan.

            1. Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! We are excited to try as many of these suggestions as we can!

              1. Poi, if you can find it fresh: it deteriorates quickly and turns from slightly sweet to sour. We had some fresh poi at Aloha Mixed Plate near Lahaina last year, but we've also had sour poi there. The Maui Brewing Co. makes a coconut ale that's good if you like coconut. Laulau is an island specialty - fish and pork wrapped in taro or ti leaves.

                Where are you staying, and will you have any cooking resources?

                1 Reply
                1. re: tardigrade

                  E, tardigrade, Aloha:

                  You no like two- or 1-finger poi? Try licking from your ipo's fingers afta an aftanoon in the pili grass. You neva forget, hiki no?

                  Aged (fermented) poi is an acquired taste, but is a meme for Old Hawai'i. Ka poe kahiko might say the older the better.


                2. If you find pasteles I would definitely try them! Love them with some Spanish rice. Don't know if they sell it on Maui but on Oahu there is a wonderful smoked ahi spread, comes in a little plastic tub. Amazing stuff! I also think you would like the Maebo Won-Ton chips from Hilo they
                  are highly addictive!

                  1. THe coconut candy - at the farmers market - yum yum - I eat it as is - or use it as a salad topper or a crust on fish
                    Musubi - of course
                    Li hung mui seasoning