Many of the dishes enjoyed in Hawai’i today, such as pipikaula, laulau, kalua pig, poke, tripe stew, loco moco, and Spam musubi (a delicious pantheon best described in Sean Na’auao’s classic 1998 song, “Fish and Poi”), are living documents of the former sovereign kingdom’s beautiful yet brutal history. Ancient Hawaiians cultivated taro, breadfruit, and sweet potatoes and discovered ingenious uses for fish, limu (edible underwater plants), and other bounties of the sea. European sailors and missionaries introduced cattle and livestock to the islands in 1778, in addition to disease-spreading fleas and viral infections. Later, foreign laborers arrived to work in the growing, exploitative sugar cane and pineapple industries, bringing with them a wealth of culinary traditions from China, Japan, Korea, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to form the melting pot of cuisines that have come to define contemporary Hawaiian food.
Today, nearly 40,000 Native Hawaiians call Los Angeles home (an impressive stat beaten only by Las Vegas, Hawai’i’s unofficial “ninth island”). And it’s the islands’ former residents, like the Big Island’s Maile and Bruce Goold, or Kevin Lee, who grew up working in his family’s Korean restaurant Sorabol in Honolulu, who make eating Kahuku-style fried shrimp, shave ice, and saimin so enjoyable on the Mainland. From bowling alley diners to poke shacks, here are the 11 best Hawaiian restaurants in LA.Read More