Friday, June 14, 2024

Hawaii's Asian Cuisine

If you want to know what my favorite meals were in Hawaii (in addition to plate lunches), the answer would have to be Asian food. When the old plantations were started in the late 1800's, immigrants arriving from China, Japan, and Korea brought their cuisines with them. Foods like Chinese stir fry and Korean barbeque began to take root in the culture. Remember: I grew up as an ethnic minority, as most people in Hawaii are of Asian origin. Originally the immigrants settled into small, separate communities (Chinatown, Korea Town, etc.). They all socialized but never really intermarried until after WW2. Now the plantations are just a memory, but the cuisine lives on. Hawaii might well be the best state for authentic Asian food. This includes Thai food. Kailua has them all. Here's a sampling of what I ate during my latest visit:



And Korean: 

This Kalbi served on a sizzling platter was uh-mazing. 

That said, perhaps there's no such thing as "authentic" Asian food in the States. If you want to see what Asians are eating you'll need to plunk down some cash for plane tickets. I've never been to Japan, but my visits to Korea (6 times) and mainland China (13 times) have convinced me that there's something unique about enjoying a country's cuisine during an actual visit there. One thing I really like about the Ethiopian restaurants we have in Raleigh is that they could care less if Americans like their food or not. They'll cook it the way they've always cooked it!