I’m just a girl eating my way around the world! Whenever we travel, one of my favorite parts is trying all the local foods. I will never be a skinny girl, because I love to eat. So before we took our trip to Oahu, I did a little research as to some dishes that I wanted to be sure to try. I knew that I wanted to eat lots of Poke, Shave Ice, Hula Pie and Garlic Shrimp.
Our Foodie Finds
Poke is diced raw fish served either as an appetizer or as a main course and is one of the main dishes of Native Hawaiian cuisine. Since I love fish and sushi, I intended to try more than I actually did. But there were so many dishes to try on our trip I just ran out of time. I did enjoy some Poke Nachos at a place in Waikiki called Yard House.
Cubes of marinated ahi tuna were served over deep fried wontons (instead of tortilla chips) with scallions, ponzu, cilantro and thinly sliced serrano peppers topped with a creamy truffle sauce. It was just the perfect level of spicy heat to compliment a late night flight of fresh local beers.
On our first full day in Waikiki, we ventured around the corner from our hotel for brunch to a restaurant called Basalt. We took a recommendation from the young lady who checked us in the night before, and we were glad we did. Mark had a traditional Breakfast Platter for $15 with eggs, Portuguese sausage, potatoes and toast.
I started my breakfast off with a St. Germaine Mimosa which was on special. Yum. But I was most excited to try the Loco Moco, which I had read about during my pretrip research. My dish cost $14 and came with 2 eggs served on top of a flame grilled hamburger patty over fried rice and topped with beefy mushroom gravy and scallions. This was a wonderful dish….tasty and filling! It is customarily served over white rice, but I really liked their use of the fried rice instead.
You can find garlic shrimp trucks all over the island especially on the North Shore. We had several recommendations for Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku. The original Giovanni’s site is in Haleiwa, but we had heard that it has a much longer line. In addition, since we were staying at Turtle Bay Resort, we were very near the Kahuku location.
We got a dozen garlic shrimp with 2 scoops of rice for $14. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and super delicious (with hot sauce on the side). Even though there was a line the food came up pretty fast. On our first trip we also shared an order of “mac salad” which is a traditional Hawaiian side. We ended up visited this shrimp truck twice during our stay and each time split a shrimp plate because it was very filling.
When you arrive at Giovanni’s, there is a shared dining pavilion located in the center of the food trucks. It’s a pretty chill place to enjoy your lunch (or 2nd lunch, lol). We also visited some of the other trucks at this lot for shave ice and a fresh coconut. After you drink the coconut water, they will crack it open for you so that you can eat the coconut meat.
Hula Pie is Macadamia Nut Ice Cream in a Chocolate crust topped with more toasted macadamia nuts, chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream! This giant slice of heaven can be found at Dukes Waikiki and costs $11 for a piece that is definitely big enough to share (if you are willing to share).
We stopped in just for a slice of pie after our sunset catamaran cruise. A perfect dessert to end a perfect day. Love Dukes! We went back for their breakfast buffet which was very nice and only ran $18 pp. Their buffet was affordable and better than one we paid $24 pp for at our hotel. Plus at Dukes we got a beach front view of the ocean from our table.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
Hawaii is famous for shave ice. There are stands selling it all over and we tried a few. But I made sure to get a bowl from the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice location in Haleiwa. I ordered it served over ice cream with a condensed milk “snow cap” to create a more creamy texture. You can choose 3 flavors from the long list so we tried coconut, lychee, and papaya. This place always has a big line but is well worth the wait. A small shave ice only cost $5 and was the perfect treat on a hot and sunny 91 degree day.
When on Oahu, a Dole Whip is a must-try. The Dole Plantation seemed a little bit too crowded and touristy for us, but I did want to stop in for an authentic Dole Whip. I mean we were driving right by on the way from Waikiki to the North Shore so why not. We shared (we always share treats) a Dole Whip with fresh Pineapple Topping on their patio costing $6.95.
If you are traveling with kids, you may want to spend some extra time there and take the train ride tour or do the pineapple maze. But be warned, there is a big pricey gift shop with lots of stuff the kiddos will want you to buy so bring your wallet.
Bullet Coffee and Acai Bowls
On our last day, we planned a breakfast stop at the Sunrise Shack. They came highly recommended by Kathryn at the Adventures of A Plus K. The name says it all because it is literally a bright yellow shack on the side of the road across from the beach. We got to share our breakfast space with some local surfers that had come in for a bite.
Mark ordered the Coconut Bullet Coffee ($6) which is organic coffee, coconut oil, MCT Oil and Laird Superfood Creamer. Sounds weird, but when I tasted it, it was the best coffee I had all week. I went for an Acai Bowl ($10.95) made with acai, banana, blueberries, coconut oil, and honey, blended as a smoothie then topped with Granola, more banana, coconut flakes, honey, and pitaya sauce (whatever that was). Healthy and delicious.
My Foodie Experience
I wish I had the chance to try a little more Poke on our trip, but the Poke Nachos at Yard House were pretty swell. I can’t recommend the Garlic Shrimp at Giovanni’s Shrimp truck enough, it was the bomb! I will be recreating the delightful loco moco dish for Sunday Brunch at my house in the near future.
A Few notable mentions not on my list were the Huli Huli Chicken wings at Maui Brewing and an excellent Cubano sandwich made with Kalua Pork at Kona Brewing. Both places also offered some great beer selections. I also tried some take-out musubi (a slice of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori) from the Basalt Market on a day when our time was too short to dine in.
We didn’t make it to the Rainbow Drive-In or to Leonard’s Bakery this trip, but next time for sure! You can never do everything on your list! The main thing is to open your mind and your pallet and try new foods and flavors because it really adds a lot to any travel experience.
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Last updated 12/6/22