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Kihei & Wailea
Maui Grinds

Maui Grinds
(pidgin for food)

When the Hawaiians came here around 450 A.D. they brought their own food; taro, sweet potato, bananas, pig, dog, and a kind of chicken. Fish and seaweed they found here to complete their basic diet. Broiling, boiling, baking in a pit, drying and salting were the main ways of preparing food.

The Chinese came here to work the plantations in 1852, bringing mainly Cantonese cuisine. So rice and noodles, stir frying and steaming were added to an expanding local menu. In 1868, the Japanese came and added their food traditions. The Portuguese dropped in in 1878 from Madeira and the Azores bringing great bean soup, cabbage soup, bacalhau and European style cooking. Around 1906, the Filipino people arrived with their native cuisine and its Spanish and Malaysian influences. Is it any wonder you can eat yourself silly internationally on one small island? Here are some of the results you may want to explore.


Maui Potato Chips

Limited edition thick potato chips made by KitchnCook. A favorite to take home to the mainland.


Stew something in vinegar and garlic like the Filipinos do and you get adobo.

Char Siu

The Chinese cook this sweet pork roast.

Crack Seed

These preserved, salted, sweetened and spiced fruit and seeds are found in most stores. Papaya, mango, lemon peel, coconut, plums all get the treatment. Experiment. You'll find some you really like and some will make you wonder why they bothered. Favorites are Lemon Peel and Li Hing Mui.


A custard made from fresh coconut milk and cornstarch.

Kalua Pork

They wrap a whole pig in ti and banana leaves and bake it in a pit. The meat comes out really tender and flavorful. Kalua pork is the centerpiece of any luau.

Kim Chee

A Korean pickle of fermented cabbage and spices. Watch out! This can be fiery.

Lau Lau

Make a bag of ti leaves, fill it with butterfish, pork, taro leaves, maybe sweet potato, and steam it for this Hawaiian favorite.


Several kinds of seaweed served raw or cooked into dishes. Mixed with ground kukui nuts, salt and sliced fish or octopus and you have poki.

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Salted salmon is shredded, mashed and mixed with tomatoes and green onions.


Portuguese holeless doughnuts that are sold hot, sprinkled with powdered sugar.


A steamed bun filled with pork or bean paste. One of the treats you'll find in local groceries and roadside stands.


Little limpets that cling to rocks along the tide line. They are picked and eaten on the spot.


The traditional Hawaiian starch is a root that is cooked and pounded into a purple paste. Poi is traditionally scooped up with the fingers. A taste you have to acquire.

Portuguese Bean Soup

Portuguese sausage, beans, vegetables cooked into a rich stew. Yum.

Chicken Long Rice

Clear noodles, that are slippery and that you can see through.


A watery noodle soup. A Hawaiian friend takes packages of dried saimin with him to the mainland so he will have good food to eat.

Bagoong and Harm Ha

Strong to very strong Filipino and Chinese fish sauces.

Shave Ice

The Hawaiian version of the snow cone. Served with your choice of many flavored syrups. The pineapple flavoring is usually blue. The deluxe version has sweetened adzuki beans and a small scoop of ice cream.

Chocolate covered macadamia nuts

Tons are shipped to the mainland and tons more eaten here. Chocoholics dream.

Spam Musubi

Could be the state dish of Hawaii. A SPAM shaped block of rice with a slice of fried SPAM on top wrapped in black nori seaweed.

Note: In ancient Hawaii there were some foods that were forbidden to women.


Most bananas





You can find out a lot more on our Maui HI! Tour Guide CD-ROM

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