Hawaii Regional Cuisine is a relatively new term which was coined by a group of chefs in 1992. Put simply, it is a unique blend of Asian and Western cuisine which is distinctly different because of the special ingredients available on the various islands and the multicultural influence of the people who live there.
The concept basically came about following a meeting of a dozen or so chefs which included those native to the island and those who were recent arrivals in Hawaii. Both groups noticed distinctive features about the dishes being prepared by the other and hence Hawaii Regional Cuisine was born.
But, apart from the chefs simply deciding on a term for this original style of cooking, there are two very specific reasons why the regional cuisine developed in the first place. The first and most obvious reason is all down to the different groups of settlers who have left their mark both in and on the area. From the first Polynesian settlers who brought their native coconuts, bananas, yams, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and mountain apples to the islands, to the wave of immigrant Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Filipino labourers who came to work in the sugarcane fields in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, each group introduced their own ingredients, methods and eating habits to Hawaii.
The second reason for this unique cuisine is because of Hawaii’s status as a leading tourist resort. The first tourists arrived in the region way back in the 1920s and since their arrival, there has been a steady influx of visitors to the islands every year. So, in order to impress their guests and keep things fresh and new for each different group, many chefs came up with further dishes and recipes to compliment the traditional ones which had existed for decades. And as a visitor to Hawaii, you will be fortunate enough to sample both the old and the new as well as a combination of both. Eating out on the islands is a real gastronomic treat and don’t be afraid to experiment, the chefs weren’t.