Modern Hawaiian cuisine is a fusion of many cuisines brought by multi-ethnic immigrants to the islands, particularly of American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese origins, and including food sources from plants and animals imported for Hawaiian agricultural use from all over the world. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch featuring the Asian staple, 2 scoops rice, American macaroni salad, and a variety of different toppings ranging from the hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy of a Loco Moco, Japanese style Tonkatsu or the traditional lu'au favorite, Kalua Pig.
Native Hawaiian cuisine
The first Polynesians began arriving from the Marquesas in about 600 or 700 AD; then from the Society Islands came another migration in about 1100 AD. With them they brought many ingredients not indigenous to the Hawaiian islands , such as breadfruit. As an Island culture, the Hawaiians are dependent on the sea for much of their diet as evident by their love of Poke or Ahi which is similar to a Ceviche, Mahi mahi and Tako. Among the Hawaiian people, it is customary to celebrate auspicious occasions with a lu'au or great feast. Once called the aha'aina, the feast had spiritual significance; it was thought that they were sharing a meal with the gods. Native cuisine until the arrival of European settlers in the 1800's was, like most Polynesian cuisine, extremely low fat. With the arrival of pigs on the island and later Spam this would change the typical native's diet, sometimes gravely. There is some momentum to return to a more traditional diet as natives are suffering from heretofore unknown epidemics of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks much like Native American cuisine whose pre-conquest diet has been replaced with things like untraditional Indian fry bread.
- Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family yields the highest nutrition per acre of any crop
- Sugar cane
- Mountain apples
- Island Fish, fish like mullet and mahimahi.
Ingredients borrowed from other cultures
- Five spice
- Char siu
- Patis and Bagoong, Fish sauces
- Sushi and Sashimi
List of Hawaiian foods
- Kalua Pig
- Kona coffee
- Loco Moco
- Lomi salmon
- Macadamia nut
- Plate lunch
- Portuguese sweet bread
- Spam musubi
Tiki restaurants of the 1930's onward
Don the Beachcomber, a former bootlegger, opened what is acknowledged to be the first of these establishments, and claims the creation of the mai tai. As service-men and women from the Pacific theater of World War II began coming home they brought recipes and tastes that could not be satisified at the Italian, French, and American restaurants of the era. Tiki restuarants soon began appearing that were often accompanied by tiki bars with tropical drinks. One of these chains that took advantage of this new clientele with a taste for the exotic was run by Trader Vic. (Of the 26 restaurants which at one time existed, only a few, such as the Emeryville location, remain.) Much of the food served at tiki restaurants is considered to be Cantonese cuisine, but the fusion of Hawaiian ingredients is what made it tiki.