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Welcome to Dream Vacations, a lifestyle column on travelling to amazing destinations with practical advice and my revelations about locales from years of personal experience. Food: it’s an international language of love for many. Visiting Maui means an amazing visual experience for many, because the beauty of Hawaii is unlike what most ‘mainlanders’ have ever experienced. However, the food choices and options should not be left out.

Maui, Hawaii Food Specialities

Visiting Hawaii for the first time, there are likely to be some food specialties that you see. Here is a quick guide to get you up to speed.

Poi – Do you like pudding or porridge (oatmeal)? If you do, this uniquely Hawaiian dish may be a dream for you. It’s made from Taro, a potato-yam type of starch that is a bit sweet. You may need to get used to the texture, but it is a great treat.

Kalua Pig – If you loved barbequed pulled pork, you’ll love this. The pig is slow roasted in an underground oven which imparts a natural smoky flavour. Just don’t ask for the barbeque sauce.

Poke – it’s the islands name for a dish many are already familiar with: Sushi. If you love sushi (raw fish), then you’ll love Maui’s take on it. Being an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a great way to develop a healthy love for raw fish. Poke is served in bite-sized, delicious cubes mixed with other fresh ingredients to resemble more of a ceviche instead of the thin-slices-over-rice sushi.

Saimin – a fusion of Polynesian cultures, like many Hawaiian dishes, Saimin is a close relative of Chinese egg-noodle soup, but has graduated to include many different ingredients over the years of immigration to include Japanese, Korean and Portuguese influences.

Manapua – Familiar with Chinese pork buns? These Hawaiian tasties are a cousin and available at most Chinese restaurants. Great for snacking or a light lunch, they travel well and taste delicious with their warm insides. Instead of just barbecue pork like the Chinese version, Hawaiians have decided to add in a whole cornucopia of savoury flavour including ginger chicken, hot dog, pizza, shoyu chicken and even sweet potato.

These are not all the local food specialties, just a sampling of some of my family’s favourites over the years.

Maui Delights!

Looking for a few great restaurants to challenge your taste buds? Here is a quick list of places not too far from our Ka’anapali Resorts:

  1. Joey’s Kitchen – the former head chef of Roy’s opened up this affordable delight with an great selection of local-styled food. Within walking distance, it’s a must-try!
  2. Hula Grill – Beachside fish tacos and Maui seafood, or just drinks for sunset!
  3. Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar – literally named one of America’s best sushi bars, and only 10 minutes from Ka’anapali, dinner is spectacular, if you like seafood.
  4. Star Noodle – hits two birds with one stone, the islands best Manapua and Saimin! Also, its only 30 minutes away in Lahaina.
  5. Ono Kau Kau – looking for a no frills, local-authentic place for Kalua Pig? This place is it. It’s only a four minute drive or a 40 minute walk, either way, satisfy your cravings.

There are tons of great local restaurants, be sure to search them out and let us know what your favourites are! Find the best resorts in Hawaii on our home page.

Tags: Hawaii, Maui, foodie, local food, food specialty, family vacation