Hawaii is all about the sunshine, surfboards, and the most epic landscape you’ll ever see jutting out of the Pacific Ocean. You may be negotiating waves on a surfboard or twists in the Kamehameha highway, but, either way, you’re getting hungry. Good thing the island of Oahu has got you covered! As I discovered in Maui last year, Hawaiian food isn’t all about the pineapple (although it *is* an important player). Hawaii’s cultural diversity makes it the original* epicentre of fusion cuisine (*I made up that fact). Hawaiian classics like poke, kalua pork, and a multitude of macadamia-nut incarnations are the must-eats but if you really want the best of Hawaiian fusion, here’s the top 3 foods in Oahu according to Portjam.
Malasadas came to Hawaii with the Portuguese immigration in the 19th century, and we are eternally grateful! These fried donuts are traditionally dusted with cinnamon, fit in the palm of your hand, and are cloud-level fluffy. Leonard’s Bakery is a Honolulu institution that pumps these puppies out fresh as you order them, which makes them just that much more heavenly. They’ve been around since 1952 and malasadas aren’t their only game. You can get all kinds of Portuguese treats like pao doce and all other varieties of sweets. Malasadas are the main draw though with plenty of options to choose from: 3 coatings (original sugar, cinnamon sugar, the salty dried plum Li Hing) and 3 fillings (custard, chocolate, and coconut). The best part? You don’t have to be in Honolulu, Leonard’s has gone Malasadamobile™ with a food truck that you can reserve for private events.
My recommendation: The original sugar is a must and if you’re in for a unique twist, the Li Hing is a surprisingly subtle take on the asian flavour combo!
I was hungry-walking down Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue looking for something to entice my tastebuds when I hit a wall of incredible aroma that sent me reeling. The aroma of garlic was wafting through the air and I followed my nose down a side street to find the source: a garlic shrimp truck. In fact, there were 3 garlic shrimp trucks in a 3 block radius, which makes this the highest density of garlic shrimp trucks in a city* (another Portjam-created fun fact). Seriously though, the island of Oahu has a severe case of garlic shrimp truck fever! That’s pretty good proliferation for a non-native bulb. Beyond the Honolulu city limits, you can find a slew of garlic shrimp trucks dotting the side of the Northern end of the Kamehameha Highway. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is arguably the most popular with a line that never really seems to shrink and a dizzyingly amazing aroma. The shrimp scampi is the main attraction and beware of the tongue-scorching hot sauce!
My recommendation: The shrimp scampi is the main draw, so I’d recommend that. If line ups and wait times aren’t your thing, head North on the highway to nearby Romy’s Kahuku Shrimp or Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp.
Mochi Ice Cream
I like squishy food, typically some variation of bread. When I heard of mochi, it sounded like I had some squishy food to try. When I heard of mochi ice cream… well let’s just say it went right up to the top of Oahu priority list. Bubbies homemade ice cream is the place to be for these squishy cold treats. There are a total of 20 varieties with different mochi/ice cream flavour combinations ranging between the traditional chocolate to the more exotic sakura. I had the chocolate espresso flavour because I like both individually and in unison. The combination of squishy mochi to dense ice cream is odd at first but quickly becomes the best thing since ice cream sandwiches. The two-bite-brownie-sized treat quickly reached the top of my preferred vessel for ice cream. I never knew I needed to eat ice cream in bite-sized form like a tiny squishy cookie.
My recommendation: Make sure to order 3 mochis in different flavours. With so many varieties, you’ll want to try them all. (I didn’t and it’s my only regret from the whole experience!)