Upon initially moving to Hawaii towards the end of high school, my dad (who is currently in Korea, but local to Hawaii himself) warned me to steer away from two things: the food and the language. “How different could it be?” I wondered. It was not long, maybe even on the first day here, before I noticed the gaping differences. The food was delicious, but everything seemed heavy and always served with two scoops of rice and a side of mayonnaise-filled macaroni salad. The language (or, Pidgin) was incomprehensible, at least in the beginning and was something that I became accustomed to over a pro-longed period of time. But now. both the food and the Hawaiian, shall I say, “patois” grew on me to a point where Hawaii is where I can now call home.
It isn’t that I have incorporated the food and slang into my daily life (because I definitely have not), however, I’ve come to appreciate Hawaii for its unique cultural differences so emblematic and exclusive from the rest of the United States. These two aspects alone have the capacity to distinguish who or what is local and ‘da kine,’ a word for a certain something or je ne sais quoi that everyone implicitly understands yet can never seem to explain.
What I can explain though is this, local food is comfort food. It’s what you know and love put together on a plate. If you’re looking to try food that is local to Hawaii, I would recommend going to Da Kitchen (a Maui-based restaurant that has recently opened in Oahu). Although the portions and the gravy-slathered patties and spinach and taro leaf-wrapped pork and fish can be overwhelming upon first glance and bite, the loco moco and more traditional lau lau are worth giving a taste. As a matter of fact, so is the chicken long rice, which is like chicken noodle soup but better! While my dad may have been correct to warn me in some respects, I still believe that it’s Hawaii that is worth giving a taste.
@ St. Louis Alumni Clubhouse
925 Isenberg St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
Hours: Monday-Friday 11am to 9pm