Poke, Poke, Poke - Maguro Brothers (Oahu)
Flashback to when I was in Hawaii. Still feeling beach withdrawals but ready to share all the yummy food I had out there!
I spent 3 days in Kauai and 2 days in Oahu so the places I mention will be from those two islands. If you like taro, spam, poke and refreshing desserts like shave ice, you'll love the food in Hawaii!
I've been to Oahu twice and the first time I visited, I was on a mission to try every poke spot I could find. You'd think all the poke in Hawaii starts to taste the same after a while but boy was I wrong. I've had everything from Onos to Foodland's poke and I've gotta say, Maguro Brothers is hands down the BEST poke I've ever had.
In the heart of Chinatown, you can find Maguro Brothers tucked away in the middle of a fish market (I guess that makes sense right?). If you can get past all the fishy aroma, you will not be disappointed. What's good about Maguro Brothers is that they use rock salt to prepare their poke. The fish is super fresh, to the point where the fish starts to taste like butter. I get the spicy ahi tuna and tried it with both brown and white rice. I'd say for their poke specifically, the white rice pairs better with the fish since it's a bit more neutral tasting and their brown rice is a bit too textured for the fish imo.
Dinner with a view- Hukilau Lanai (Kauai)
For our last night in Kauai, I decided that I wanted to be a bit fancier. I Yelped a bunch of places throughout the day and finally decided on Hukilausince it was fairly close and the restaurant had the type of food I wanted.
Dinner started off with a glass of Riesling and some baby clams. The clams were delicious and paired perfectly with their house made focaccia. I'm obsessed with "house-made" items and anything on the specialties list, basically. Make sure to dip the focaccia in the clam broth, it’s good enough to drink!
For our main course, we decided to split the fish sampler where they give you an option to taste three types of fish that the restaurant has for the day. Would not suggest the poke nachos unless you want heavily sauced tuna with soggy chips. The highlight of our meal was definitely our dessert though.
Their coconut cheesecake was AMAZING! It didn't taste frozen at all, the entire cheesecake was very smooth and not too rich or sweet. It was the perfect thing to cap off our meal.
Best Shave Ice- Waiola (Oahu)
When I think about shave ice, I think popsicles and ice cream! Shave ice has the cold and refreshing taste of a popsicle but when you scoop it into your mouth, it melts like perfectly chilled ice cream. This all depends on how finely shaved the ice is. Waiola does it right! They've got a bunch of flavors from milk tea to ginger to bubblegum and toppings you can add like condensed milk and mochi. Actually scratch that, you NEED to add mochi because well, it's mochi and who doesn't love mochi balls?! Also - if you're feeling less creative than usual, there's a few pre-decided menu items that are go-tos for the locals, such as the Azuki Bowl, which is loaded with azuki beans and condensed milk. Azuki beans are red beans so imagine a boiled bean covered in condensed milk (drool). I got the Milk Tea shave ice with condensed milk and mochi balls, and although it didn't taste like the milk tea from back home, it was just as refreshing!
Hawaii is also known for their abundance of li-hing coated candies and treats. Li-hing is salty dried plum and when it’s turned into a powder, it adds a different level of flavor to things like sour patch candies, strawberry sour belts and mangos. Side note: Waiola a small store where you can buy your Li-Hing goodies and a t-shirt if you want to bring it back to the mainland :)
Best Quick Breakfast- Kalapaki Beach Hut (Kauai)
When in Kauai, do something outdoorsy! This island is full of such beautiful landscapes and beaches,and the drive along the way is breathtaking. They say Kauai is the lovers’ island which I didn't understand why until I spent my first night here. Full of beautiful waterfalls, delicious local food, you can easily get lost in nature here. You don’t hear the sound of car horns or many tourists walking outside of your hotel but instead, you can hear birds chirping and feel nature right outside your window. It's nice to get away from the typical hustle and bustle of the city life that I'm used to and Kauai makes it super easy to do so. The town is quiet and small filled with many mom and pop shops.
Right before my hike, I needed to fuel ourselves with something quick but yummy. What's yummier than country fried potatoes, eggs, Portuguese sausage and a fresh smoothie? Kalapaki Beach Hut is a go-to if you want something quick but satisfying They have outdoor seating, provide good portion sizes which also come with good prices! I decided to add tomato slices on the side which was a juicy addition to the meal.
Best Dessert- Lapperts Hawaii (Kauai)
Mm, just thinking about the ice cream is making me miss the backroads of Kauai in the Jeep I had for the weekend. If you want ice cream in Kauai, Lapperts is the place to go! They have macadamia and chocolate-covered waffle cones too - how delicious does that sound?! I heard about Lapperts from a friend who is also a local who grew up in Kauai. I got two scoops of macadamia and Kauai pie ice cream. The perfect combo, in my opinion.The macadamia ice cream wasn't ovelry sweet but the Kauai pie had a rich flavor to it, so it was a good balance. The cone was not overpowering and gave the ice cream a complementing crunch! :)
Pick-me ups- Oahu and Kauai
If you're in Oahu, Java Kai has very good macademia nut lattes, a bit strong for non-coffee drinkers like myself but still tasty.
Hit up Leonards in Oahu for some ooey gooey Malasadas. They are the best if eaten right as you get them. Fresh out of the oven, they are super warm and offer a fresh filling that just melts in your mouth. The line goes by quickly, and it is totally worth the calories! I can picture it now, warm custard oozing out of a soft a fluffy pastry. Can we really ask for more? Oh, and they have food trucks!
Bento Boxes- Kauai
These are great for the road if you're headed to the beach or hike. Since the island is not as populated heavily with tourists, most of the small shops here carry a set amount of hot foods like bento boxes and musubis that they make in the morning and once they run out, they’re done making it for the day. I traveled to a bunch of local markets and all the musubis and bento boxes were gone by 10 AM! I had to put these babies on hold. Check out Konohiki Seafoods for some fresh Kulolo (grated taro with coconut milk 😭) and bento boxes! Literally drooling right now.