Seared Aki appetizer with ogo and green onions Image Tor Johnson Hawaii Tourism Authority
Seared Aki appetizer with ogo and green onions. Image: Tor Johnson Hawaii Tourism Authority

Hawai‘i regional cuisine

A group of local chefs created Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, which blends the Islands’ multicultural influences, flavours and cooking styles with local ingredients

With many of the Hawaiian Islands’ residents the descendants of immigrants who came to work the islands’ sugar cane and pineapple plantations in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the state has an interesting mix of cuisine. You can discover enticing and creative variations on traditional American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Portuguese dishes across the Hawaiian Islands. Long before their arrival, Native Hawaiians were living a sustainable existence. They partitioned segments of each island into ahupua‘a (land divisions), and people were given the responsibility of managing the resources in their portion. The ocean provided a variety of fish, but it was the Hawaiians’ innovative construction of large fishponds that allowed them to manage a constant supply.

Herb Crusted Ahi from Pacifico on the Beach on Maui Image Spencer Starnes
Herb Crusted Ahi from Pacific'o on the Beach on Maui. Image: Spencer Starnes

Native Hawaiian farming produce

Long before their arrival, Native Hawaiians were living a sustainable existence. They partitioned segments of each island into ahupua‘a (land divisions), and people were given the responsibility of managing the resources in their portion. The ocean provided a variety of fish, but it was the Hawaiians’ innovative construction of large fishponds that allowed them to manage a constant supply.

Chef Alan Wong at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival Image Reid Shimabukuro
Chef Alan Wong at the Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival. Image: Reid Shimabukuro

Who created Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine?

In 1991, a group of 12 chefs, including Roy Yamaguchi, Peter Merriman, Alan Wong and Beverly Gannon, got together to enhance Hawai‘i’s reputation as a culinary destination. They built a network of farmers and ranchers they could source from and created a fusion style of cooking that mixes ethnic cooking techniques found throughout the islands with fresh local produce – think beef from cattle raised on the pastures of island of Hawai‘i and vegetables grown from rich, volcanic soil on Maui.

Merrimans Kauai home of Hawaii Regional Cuisine
Merriman's Kauai - home of Hawai'i Regional Cuisine

Restaurants serving Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine

You can experience the concept at acclaimed restaurants throughout the islands, including Roy’s Waikīkī on O‘ahu, Merriman’s Big Island on island of Hawai‘i, and The Plantation House by Gaylords on Kaua‘i.

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