The top five must-do foods on Oahu, Hawaii - Expedia Australia Travel Blog

The top five must-do foods on Oahu, Hawaii

The top five must-do foods on Oahu, Hawaii

When it comes to food and travel, I subscribe to the ‘When In Rome’ school of adventure. I’ve been known to follow locals down many a winding street on the hunt for the best coffee, street food or cake.

The best way to experience a country is through its flavours and Hawaii doesn’t disappoint in the cool cuisine stakes.

Here are my top five local eats on the island of Oahu.

1. Kahuku Shrimp Trucks

The North Shore of Oahu is as famous for its shrimp as it is for the big waves of Sunset and Pipeline. Nestled along the Seven Mile Miracle coast are a cluster of food trucks in the tiny town of Kahuku. All of them offer similar fare but boast their own secret recipes and sauces. Giovanni’s is arguably the most celebrated of the shrimpers and was the first to open in 1993 but I chose to eat at Romy’s based on a recommendation from some local surfers.

On offer was plain, hot and spicy shrimp or lemon butter shrimp. I opted for the one with some kick and it was delicious. The dish is served roadside with two scoops of steamed rice and you can either join the locals at the picnic tables (truck stop style) or take it to one of the picture perfect beaches nearby. A plate will set you back $US12 and includes at least 12 shrimp. Be warned, the queues during lunch can be brutal; so get there early for brunch or after 2pm. Romy’s Shrimp Truck, 56781 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, Oahu

2. Hawaiian Shaved Ice

If you think you’ve tried shaved ice, think again. Hawaiian Shaved Ice makes the humble Aussie Snow Cone look like a home-brand icy pole. The Pacific version is far more serious. Imagine a snowman sitting on a bed of ice cream wearing Joseph’s Technicolour coat.

The best ice can be found in the town of Haleiwa, which is home to the world famous Matsumoto Shave Ice, founded by a Japanese husband and wife team in 1951. There’s a line out the door and around the block all day long.

I’m not good at queues, so I took another local tip and headed to the Aloha General Store, which is on the other side of the same town. There was a ten-minute wait but it was well worth it. The ice is as soft as icing sugar, the syrup is fresh and not sickly sweet and nothing prepares you for the burst of ice cream at the bottom of the cup.

This is cold snacking on another level. Aloha General Store, 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, Oahu

3. Pancakes at Boots & Kimo

Three words: Red. Velvet. Pancakes. This little game changer can be found at Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen, a breakfast institution in the town of Kailua on the east coast of Oahu.

Go early – 7am for 7.30am opening – because the lines are insane. Locals and tourists alike are happy to wait an hour to eat. The restaurant is famous for pancakes – blueberry, chocolate, buttermilk – but also a macadamia nut sauce, which is heaven in a jug.

I highly recommend ordering a side of hash browns, you’re in America after all, and go for a walk along the beach afterwards because the portion sizes are massive. Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen, 119 Hekili Street, Kailua, Oahu

4. Plate Lunch at the Rainbow Drive-In

This cool, retro diner is the fist place President Obama goes when he arrives home in Hawaii for vacation. The building looks straight out of ‘Grease’, complete with a neon rainbow street sign. Plate lunches have been a part of Hawaiian cuisine for decades. Originating in the 19th century, when plantation workers brought leftovers from dinner for lunch, the dish has evolved into a much-loved Bubble and Squeak.

The modern version is super-sized with rice and meat piled high. A standard mixed plate at the Rainbow – beef, chicken, fish – cost around $US8 and could feed a family of four. This is fast food – everything is covered in breadcrumbs, batter, salt and sauce but the experience is unreal.

A must try is the Slushie Float, a raspberry slurpee infused with soft serve ice cream. Rainbow Drive-In, 3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, Oahu.

5. Ahi Poke at Ono Seafood Takeaway

You can’t visit the islands without trying a bowl of Ahi or Taku poke, which is the native version of fish ceviche. It’s available on every street corner but I love Ono Seafood Takeaway for its freshness and spice.

The poke is cooked to order and the texture is the best I’ve had in Hawaii. A Super Bowl costs just $US7 and comes with brown rice (nice to not have white) and a can of coconut water. Beware of the house-made hot sauce because it’s the Real Deal – dip, don’t pour. Ono Seafood, 747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Oahu

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Paula Joye

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