Sampling a Variety of Hawaiian Cuisine at Restaurants in Hilo

Posted By : Aubrey Mead , on Aug, 2018


Restaurants in Hilo that feature authentic Hawaiian cuisine will have dishes on the menu from a blend of cultures. Some main influences on the island food include Japanese, Indian, Portugese, Polynesian and North American. Restaurants will have a variety of options and, obviously, not all menus will be similar. Travelers to this region may want to make some plans ahead of time for dishes they would like to try.

A Long History

Immigrants and events from the first peoples of Hawaii up through the 1970s have had strong effects on the cuisine, which is reflected on menus at Restaurants in Hilo. Perhaps the most recent significant effect was immigration from Vietnam and Thailand at the end of the Vietnam War. These new residents brought their favorite recipes, which are somewhat different than those characterizing other East Asian countries.


The common inclusion of rice or long noodles with meals is an Asian influence that is strong in Hawaii. Guests at establishments like Zippy’s Restaurants can order lunches and dinners featuring curry and Terikyaki sauces, mainly coming from recipes from India and Japan. They may want to sample some fresh fish in the form of sushi, or order delicious cooked mahi mahi. One full menu can be viewed at Website.

Sweeter Fare

For those who want to try some sweeter fare, malasadas have a Portuguese influence. They consist of fried dough made with eggs and yeast, and covered with sugar. Traditionally, household cooks made the treats to use up some of the richer food in the home right before Lent.

Spam Dishes

Travelers from North America probably have already tried Spam at some point in their lives, and maybe they’ve eaten it frequently. It may be odd to think of this canned meat as a definitive part of the Hawaiian cuisine, but people here eat more of this food per capita than anywhere in the world except for Guam.

This love for the spiced ham dates back to World War II, when U.S. troops were supplied with a great deal of it during a time when fishing was restricted around the islands. In restaurants, guests might order it fried with rice or wrapped in greens.

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