What’s Cooking on Hawaii’s Exciting Food Scene

As culinary destinations go, Hawaii takes the cake. In fact, food has become an integral ingredient in the state’s recipe for success.

“Visitors are definitely coming to Hawaii for food,” said Denise Yamaguchi, CEO of Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. “While you can create a Hawaii culinary experience in other places, what’s missing elsewhere is our culture and aloha spirit.”

It helps that Hawaii visitors love posting pictures of their food on social media, Yamaguchi adds. Whether it’s a photo of shave ice or an edible masterpiece by an island chef, every shot doubles as an advertisement for dining in Hawaii.

From farm-to-table dishes to flavorful festival fare, Hawaii’s food reflects its diversity. Here’s the latest scoop on the state’s epicurean scene, which is sure to keep clients coming back for seconds.


Farmers’ Market by Nalo Farms
This appetizing attraction caters to clients staying in or exploring burgeoning west Oahu. Open since late July, it’s a collection of tropical fruits, vegetables, prepared foods and entertainment. Look for it each Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Ka Makana Alii, an indoor-outdoor mall in Kapolei.


Leahi Concept Kitchen
Visitors can taste the creations of rising young chefs courtesy of this Waikiki Parc program, a partnership with Kapiolani Community College. Throughout 2017, the restaurant is also rolling out various dining concepts and pop-ups masterminded by distinguished guest chefs from around the world.


Red Barn Farmstand
Located on the North Shore, this congenial spot lets visitors get better acquainted with Oahu’s bounty. Recently, it launched Farmers & Friends Fridays monthly events, where guests can chat with featured growers and producers, then enjoy a lunch that incorporates their wares into each course.


Salt at Our Kakaako
Set in an up-and-coming Honolulu neighborhood, this 85,000-square-foot retail and restaurant complex is trending. Favorites include classic Hawaiian food at Highway Inn, locally sourced meals at Moku Kitchen and gourmet coffee at 9Bar HNL.


Tasting Room at Mahina & Sun’s
The hip eatery in Waikiki’s Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club presents a weekly sampling of a specific craft beer, wine or spirit that’s unique to the island. Held each Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., it’s free for both hotel guests and nonguests.



Champagne Hale
Maui’s Montage Kapalua Bay is turning heads with this pop-up bar in the hotel’s Cliff House. Guests and nonguests alike can stop by for Veuve Clicquot and specialty bites every Thursday through Sunday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. It runs through Sept. 3, then reopens for end-of-year holidays.


Chef Fest
On Hawaii Island from Oct. 4-7, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai’s food-and-wine spectacular features elegant dinners, demonstrations and interactions with prominent chefs and mixologists. New this year: alfresco cooking classes and cocktail showcases with DJs.


Holoholo Grill
Kauai’s Koloa Landing Resort recently introduced this poolside gem, a collaboration with famed Hawaii chef Sam Choy. It specializes in recipes that locals love (try the catch of the day with papaya salsa). Signature libations make this a perfect perch for a south shore sunset.


Just Juice and Luana Experience
Maui visitors start the day fresh at Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui’s new Just Juice bar, whose island-inspired blends call on homegrown produce. Come evening, the hotel’s lobby lounge offers the LuanaExperience, a series of weekly events highlighting the creativity of the property’s bartenders.


Teppanyaki Extravaganza
Four Seasons Resort Lanai just debuted its 15-course teppanyaki feast, a sizzling array of Hawaii veggies, fish and meat. Served in the hotel’s Nobu Lanai restaurant, it takes a cutting-edge approach to traditional Japanese cooking, with grilled delicacies such as Kauai shrimp, Lanai venison and crepes with sweet azuki beans.


Hawaii Food & Wine Festival
During the seventh annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, 2017), clients can expect some fresh additions to the schedule.

For instance, an event dubbed Global Street Food taps the hot trend of munching on the move. Spice Market, an East-meets-West bash, serves up innovations by chefs from as far away as China and Japan. Steamy Bowls, an after-party, lures revelers with singular recipes for comforting noodles and broth.

At Raw & Wild in the Tank, chefs turn foraged and fished ingredients into delectable dishes. Sunday brunch becomes a battle of the sexes during Food Fight & Bloody Marys, pitting male chefs against female chefs. And participants can sip some Chateau Cos d’Estournel, a coveted French wine that rarely appears at festivals.

Marty Wentzel