When in Hawaii eat HAWAIIAN FOOD

Introducing Hawaiian cuisine to my kids and getting them to “try” it was a task in itself a year ago.  Today, my kids will ask to eat Lau Lau and Kalua Pig at least once a week, because according to Jaf “it just tastes so good”!

Lau Lau, a traditional Hawaiian dish, is made with taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and is usually steamed on a stove or in an “imu“.  Kalua Pig is made by slowly roasting a pig in an imu (underground pit, which is an underground oven). Traditional kalua pig is seasoned only with salt, allowing the flavors of the pig and the vegetation it is buried with to mingle, creating a very rich, smoky flavor which many local kids from Hawaii find very enjoyable.

Lou Lou ordered a Lau Lau plate for dinner and Jaf wanted Kalua Pig.

Lau Lau Plate
Highway Inn

Both plates come with Lomi Salmon (fresh tomato and salmon salad), Poi (made from the fermented root of the taro, which has been baked and pounded into a paste-like consistency), pipikaula (Hawaiian beef jerky, get recipe from this link) and haupia, a dessert.

Kalua Pig Plate
Highway Inn

At first, getting them to eat the lau lau was a challenge since they both decided they don’t like their “pork” wrapped in spinach (its not spinach, its taro leaves BTW).  My daughter loves to dissect her food, first trying to figure out what’s inside before eating it (bad habit I KNOW, but I love watching her identify what she’s about to consume with great curiosity).

Both of them love poi so getting them to eat that was a piece of cake.  Mr. Jaf says “I love poi because you can eat it with a fork, spoon, chopstick or finger”.  It’s an acquired taste, but young kids – especially toddlers love it (add sugar to make it even more tasty).

Highway Inn

I didn’t even have to ask them to finish their plates, it was all gone before we knew it.

We frequently dine at several Hawaiian restaurants on the island.  All of which are kid-friendly.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food

1240 N School St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 845-8044

**Kid Friendly, Accepts Credit Cards, Casual Attire, Good for Groups, No Outdoor Seating

Highway Inn – Waipahu
94-226 Leoku St
Waipahu, HI 96797
(808) 677-4345

**Kid Friendly, Good for Groups, Accepts Credit Cards, Casual Attire, No Outdoor Seating

Highway Inn – Kakaako
680 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 105
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 954-4955

**Kid Friendly, Good for Groups, Accepts Credit Cards, Casual Attire, No Outdoor Seating

Ono Hawaiian Foods
726 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-2275

**Kid Friendly, No Credit Cards, Casual Attire, No Outdoor Seating

*Hawaiian food can be a bit salty, so make sure there’s lots of water for your “keiki” to drink.


—————There’s something about Hawaiian food that’s special ——————

Lau Lau
taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef, or chicken and is usually steamed on a stove or in an imu.

Back when I was much younger, the only time we would be able to eat our favorite Kalua Pig, Lau Lau, Lomi Salmon and poi was when there was a lu’au.  Families, neighbors and friends would all gather at the luau site to prepare for the big event, putting the pig in the imu, picking opihi, fishing and gathering ti leaf and torch ginger to decorate the tent and tables.  It took 3-5 days, all hands on deck and we’d spend days together, decorating and just plain bonding with anticipation leading up to the big event where we take out the pig from the imu and eat all the delicious awesomeness our grandpa’s, grandma’s, aunties and uncles have been preparing for a week.

A typical Hawaiian luau would have these food items;

  • Shoyu or Limu Poke
  • Raw Crab
  • Kalua Pig
  • Lau Lau
  • Squid Luau
  • Chicken Long Rice
  • Lomi Salmon
  • Poi
  • Rice
  • Haupia
  • Kulolo

* Click here for more descriptions of the items mentioned above.  (Source: Polynesian Cultural Center)

Fast forward 40 years and lu’aus are still a tradition with the Hawaiian people.  So much so that Hawaiian food, is now available at dining establishments across the islands so we can eat Hawaiian food anytime of the day.

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