Sa­vory Snacks

Beyond ex­pe­ri­enc­ing our con­tem­po­rary Pa­cific Rim cui­sine, guests will want to sam­ple the var­i­ous treats that is­land res­i­dents en­joy.


From the Por­tuguese donut to a post-beach lunch, lo­cal fla­vors re­quire a brave yet ap­pre­cia­tive palate.

Poke, man­a­pua, shave ice, malasadas: Hawaii’s iconic snacks are one- of-a-kind. Like the waves of peo­ple who in­tro­duced, adapted and em­braced them, they’re unique to the is­lands, a happy blend of sweet, sa­vory, puck­ery and hot. Here’s a quick in­tro­duc­tion to Hawaii’s fa­vorite snacks.

Malasadas In­tro­duced by the Is­lands’ first Por­tuguese im­mi­grants, malasadas are balls of doughy good­ness that have been deep-fried and rolled in sugar. At Leonard’s Bak­ery on the edge of Waikiki, they’re made to or­der and come out pip­ing hot, fluffy and ut­terly de­li­cious. A gen­er­a­tion ago the bak­ery’s found­ing Rego fam­ily in­tro­duced the sug­ary sweet for Shrove Tues­day, a Por­tuguese tra­di­tion pre­ced­ing Lent, and malasadas took off. Leonard’s

Bak­ery, 933 Ka­pahulu Ave., 737-5591

Shave Ice Right after the beach on hot sum­mer days, there’s noth­ing like a de­li­cious cone of soft, sweet ice to re­mind you that Hawaii no ka oi (Hawaii is the best). Just ask Pres­i­dent Obama, who takes Sasha and Malia on at least one shave ice out­ing ev­ery time he vis­its his is­land home. The ice is shaved ul­tra-fine by sharp blades, mounded by hand atop pa­per cones and doused with fruity syrups. The most popular fla­vor? Old-fash­ioned straw­berry. Most popular combo? Rainbow, a col­or­ful cone with straw­berry, vanilla and ba­nana syrups. Pres­i­dent Obama fa­vors cherry and le­mon-lime. Don’t for­get add-ons like sweet con­densed milk, ice cream or sweet red azuki beans. Waiola Shave Ice, 2135 Waiola St., 949-2269 and 3113 Mok­i­hana St., 735-8886; Mat­sumoto Shave Ice, 66087 Kame­hameha Hwy., 637-4827

Crack Seed Chil­dren in Hawaii know the puck­ery knobs of salted pre­served plum called li hing mui are good for sore throats, but there’s much more to it than that. Li hing mui is just one of an in­fi­nite as­sort­ment of crack seed, a fa­vorite after-school snack named for the process of cracking the seed inside some of the fruit be­fore it’s pre­served. There’s rock salt plum, pick­led plum, le­mon peel and pick­led apri­cot. Newer va­ri­eties in­clude shred­ded mango and can­died ginger. Fla­vors range from uber­salty to sweet-tart to salty-spicy.

Poke Poke in Hawai­ian (pro­nounced POH-keh) means “to slice or cut,” which is ex­actly what’s done to pre­mium raw fish to turn it into one of Hawaii’s fa­vorite snacks. In olden days the cubed fish was sim­ply mixed with sea salt and crushed kukui nuts; to­day, re­flect­ing the

”For vis­i­tors, Hawai­ian food means a luau. For peo­ple who live here, the true taste of Hawaii is in its snack food.“

An­drew Zim­mern

Is­lands’ mixed cul­tures, the in­car­na­tions are in­fi­nite. Su­per­mar­kets typ­i­cally sell a dozen or more va­ri­eties, with dif­fer­ent stores known for dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ties. Even lo­cal Safe­way and Whole Foods stores fea­ture poke coun­ters. Popular choices in­clude ahi mixed with soy sauce (shoyu ahi poke), spicy ahi and sal­mon poke. There’s even smoked meat poke, raw crab poke and ve­gan tofu poke. The best part: Ev­ery poke counter of­fers free sam­ples, so don’t be afraid to taste dif­fer­ent selections un­til you find your fa­vorite.

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