Are Hawaiian Dishes the Next Big Culinary Kahuna?

Traditional foods and ingredients beyond poke are increasingly popping up on mainland menus.


Photo by: LauriPatterson ©Lauri Patterson

LauriPatterson, Lauri Patterson

Trend alert: Hawaiian dishes beyond poke, the instantly everywhere traditional Hawaiian raw-fish salad, are increasingly popping up on the menus of restaurants across the U.S., the food-service industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News reports.

The next big culinary wave from Hawaii to hit eateries nationwide, according to NRN? Loco moco, consisting, in its purest form, of a hamburger patty and fried egg, slathered in gravy atop a heap of white rice. But the surfer-sanctioned comfort food is only one of several Hawaiian dishes proliferating on mainland menus like shells on a beach.

Other Hawaiian dishes and ingredients that are being more broadly embraced include lomi salmon, laulau, poi, lilikoi, chicken long rice, kalua pork and Spam. Yes, Spam, more of which is eaten in Hawaii than any other U.S. state.

In fact, the very term “Hawaiian” is making its way onto many more menus, NRN reports, citing research from Datassential MenuTrends: The word now graces 15 percent of restaurant menus in the contiguous U.S., up 7 percent from four years ago and 5 percent in the last year alone.

“People are becoming more curious about food and noticing that Hawaiian cuisine is more than what we once thought,” said Denver chef and restaurateur Troy Guard told NRN. “It is this melting pot of the Pacific Rim, so really all of these flavors and combinations infused in a diverse culture of food.”

If you’re becoming more curious about Hawaiian food by the second, check out this recent FN Dish roundup of 12 Hawaiian foods that are not poke – because any list with both Spam sushi and “Shave Ice” on it is a list worth reading.

Photo: iStock

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