Hawaiian Terms & Food Guide

Hawaiian Terms & Food Guide

New to Hawaii and trying to figure out what things mean or what certain foods are? Or you’ve been here for a while and aren’t comfortable venturing out to try new foods because you can’t pronounce them? I feel most of us who move here from the mainland feel this way. I found that Highway Inn (a Hawaiian food restaurant) is great help to explore the Hawaiian culture and popular foods among Oahu’s grown.

GLOSSARY (some commonly used words)

AHI |ah-hee| Hawaiian for yellow fin tuna

‘ALAEA |ah-lah-eh-ah| A natural mineral (volcanic baked red clay) that gives ‘Alaea

sea salt the distinctive pink color.

BROKE DA MOUT’ |brohk da mowt| Local slang for an intensely delicious


CHILI PEPPER WATER |chee-lee peh-pa wad-dah | A popular condiment

prepared from local red chilis, salt, and water. It’s good on everything.

GRIND |gri-nd| Slang for “eat” or “chow down.”

LOMI OR LOMI LOMI |low-me| It literally means to “massage.” So “lomi” refers to

the way the dish is prepared: Tomatoes, salmon, and onions massaged together.

HAUPIA |how-pee-ah| A sweet dessert, haupia was traditionally made of

arrowroot (pia). It’s now made of coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar.

HOWZIT |how-zit| A local greeting, which means “how are you doing” or “how is it


IMU |ee-moo| A traditional underground oven used by Hawaiians to cook a pig.

LIMU |lee-moo| The Hawaiian word for algae, it added flavor to the ancient

Hawaiian diet.


‘ONO |oh-no| Delicious, tasty.

PAU |pow| Finished, completed, done.

PIPIKAULA |pee-pee-cow-lah| Much like beef jerky, pipi (beef) kaula (strip) was a favorite snack among paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) during long cattle drives in the 19th century

What is it!? Some Hawaiian foods to give a try…

Lau Lau (Like “wow-wow” but with an “L”) is a traditional Hawaiian dish consisting of a piece of pork and butterfish wrapped in luau (loo-ow) leaves and steamed for several hours.

Poi (poy) is mashed up taro root. It was the main source of starch for Hawaiians. Whether it’s served at room temperature or cold, locals often eat it with a spoonful of lomi salmon or a bite of kalua pig.

Kalua Pig (kah-loo-ah peeg) literally means “pig cooked in an underground oven. It’s the centerpiece to any luau (party).

Pipikaula (pee-pee-cow-lah) is a salted, dried beef strip and then grilled to enhance the flavor.

Lomi Salmon (low-me sam-min) is a Hawaiian side dish made of diced tomatoes, onions and salmon. Similar to ceviche, Lomi Salmon’s culinary partner in crime is poi.

Poke (poh-key or poh-kay) consists of diced raw ahi (tuna), sea salt, sesame oil, limu (seaweed) and soy sauce.

Chicken Long Rice Made of Chinese vermicelli noodles, chicken, broth, ginger, garlic, and green onions.

Moving to Hawaii can be stressful not only because you’re moving away from your friends and family, but because the culture is so different here than on the mainland. There are foods you’ve never tried and words you’ve never heard of, but hopefully this list can help ease your struggles.

If you’re interested in more info check out Highway Inn! https://www.myhighwayinn.com/malahini-guide



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