The Cuisine of Molokai

The food available in Molokai is, for the most part, not so different from what’s available in Mainland USA. Although, of course, there are those that stand out. These are some of the “must-taste” food when on the island.

Nuts about these nuts

The macadamia nut is one of Hawaii’s top exports. Molokai is the location of some of the major plantations for macadamia. You can tour these plantations and even sample some of their products.

Macadamias are some of the most nutritious nuts around. They contain a good amount of monosaturated fats, which are good for a balanced diet, as well as overall health. These nuts also taste good as is, or dipped in chocolate.

When in Molokai, try to visit the plantations to get a glimpse of how these nuts are harvested and processed. You also get first dibs on the plantation’s freshest products.

For the sweet tooth in all of us

The Kanemitsu Bakery in the Kaunakakai town is one of the most well-loved bakeries in the island. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local or a visitor. If you want freshly baked breads and sweets, you go to Kanemitsu Bakery.

The bakery is known for innovative products, as well as the staples. If you want some comfort food, then get their white or wheat bread, or maybe some sweet bread or onion and cheese bread. If you want something different, then they have breads made with a heavenly mix of fruits. You can get some with mangoes, pineapple, apricots, and more. Their current bestseller is the taro lavosh – try it to know why it is now the bakery’s signature product.

And, if you’re in the mood for something more, try some of their homemade cream cheese, jellies, and cinnamon spreads. The bakery has a café next door, serving their products, as well as specialty sandwiches and coffee.

When the night bites, join the locals in their ritual. Every ten in the evening, a line begins to form outside the bakery’s backdoor. This is for the “hot-bread run,” when freshly baked goodies are unloaded into the hands of eager customers. You can get these fresh baked breads, along with the bakery’s other specialties.

Island pizza special

If you’re craving for some good ol’ pizza, head on to the Molokai Pizza Café. This is also in the town of Kaunakakai and is renowned for their Molokai pizza. That’s just pepperoni and cheese to the rest of us but somehow, they make even these pizza house staples just fantastic. Another special is the Big Island pizza. This is a yummy mix of pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, bacon, mushroom, and vegetables. A must try is the Molokin, which is a thin cheesy slice of heaven. The café also has the requisite pasta dishes, sandwiches, and gourmet burgers. There are daily specialties too that veer away from the usual pizza and pasta. It’s Mexican every Wednesday. Ribs are available every Sunday.

Fine fining at its best

The only hotel in the island also offers one of the best fine dining experiences there. The Hula Shores Restaurant and Lounge is located at Hotel Molokai in the town of Kaunakakai. It boasts of an ocean view lanai area, complete with tiki torches and a refined tropical ambiance.

Even with the fine dining ambiance, the attitude remains casual and fun. Seafood and vegetables are standard fares. Their Big Island organic vegetable salads are just awesome. They have grilled fish specialties, which you should sample. The fresher the catch, the better. For heavier meals, they have the usual red meat specialties, such as kalbi ribs, New York steaks, and roast beef. The coconut shrimps are to-die for.

Simplicity and satisfaction

Over at the town of Pukoo, there’s the Mana’e Goods and Grindz, which looks deceivingly simple. However, once you sample their specialties, you’d know that there’s more to this one-stop shop. The Mana’e Goods and Grindz used to just be a local grocery. When it expanded, it started to serve meals from some of the produce that it sells. The place has a big area for picnics and stopover meals. The shop has brunch to dinner specials. For brunch, there are set meals with Portuguese sausages, ham, and specialty omelets. For fuller meals, they have grilled mahimahi and other fish, vegetarian burgers, saimin, Mexican plates, and chicken katsu (from the Japanese cooking style “katsudon”). If you’re craving for desserts, Mana’e Goods and Grindz offers one of Maui’s specialties, the Roselani ice cream. Drop by the store for great value meals. Plus, you also get to see why Molokai locals love this place so much.

Go natural

While in the town of Kaunakakai, the Outpost Natural Foods is the best place to go to for vegetarian or vegan meals and products. It’s also a plus that the food here is relatively cheap compared to other cafes in town. The Outpost Natural Foods is actually a health food store. It offers some of the freshest fruits and vegetables, and other health products. They have a counter for tropical fruits, such as papayas, pineapples, watermelons, and more. Opposite this is a cabinet full of vitamins, organic makeup, and other processed products.

The lunch counter is in between these sections and offers sumptuous healthy meal choices. Some of the favorites include the tofu-spinach lasagna, mock chicken, mock meatloaf, vegetarian burritos, and tempeh sandwiches. All these are must-try meals that even non-vegetarians would love.

Snack on the go

This is really how you should be when you go to Kamoi Snack-N-Go since there are no tables and chairs – but then, it’s all worth it. Kamoi Snack-N-Go in the town of Kaunakakai is the place to go to for icy treats. This is just perfect for tropical summers in Molokai.

The ice cream they serve comes from Oahu’s Dave’s Ice Cream. Flavors include exotic options like ube, haupia, litchi, and green tea. You can choose from basic ice cream and sherbet to sinful sundaes, icee floats, and milky shakes. There are candies on the counter too – for the ultimate sweet tooth treat.

Drive-Inn Molokai

The Molokai Drive Inn is one of the very few drive in places in the island. It’s a local hangout place, known for their fresh ahi and akule (fish species). They also offer a sumptuous meal with fried saimin. Locals swear by their floats and shakes, as well as their sweet fried chicken (honey-dipped). The Drive Inn is a simple space, with good food at very affordable prices. There isn’t an ambiance to speak of, but that’s alright. There is so much of everything else to enjoy here.

Meet the locals

One of the major draw of the Paddler’s Inn in Kaunakakai town is that it is a great place to enjoy good food and meet some of the locals. The ambience is simple and very friendly. You will find good old favorites here, such as homemade biscuits, burgers, and steaks. The burgers are some of the best available. They’re guaranteed to be made from 100% beef. Vegetarians have a few choices too. Their salads are made of the freshest vegetables and topped with fruits in season.

Nighttime ushers in the day’s specials, as well as some local entertainment. Dinner is usually heavy, veering towards steaks, and grilled meat and fish.

The other notables

There are other notable places in Molokai, where you can get great food and great value for money. Here are a couple of them:

Stanley’s Coffee Shop and Gallery: This is located in the town of Kaunakakai and is noted for their particularly strong coffee. If you need to wake up, go here. Plus, you can get some of their breakfast specialties too. They offer yummy Belgian waffles with eggs, ham, and fresh fruits. Stanley’s Coffee Shop and Gallery also has good sandwiches.

Sundown Deli: This café is also in the town of Kaunakakai. It is a quaint little place, where you can just drop by for a quick takeout or, if you’re lucky, sit on one of the shop’s few seats. Other must-trys are the gourmet saimin, vegetarian quiche and lasagna, and the spinach pie. Almost all of the products here are healthy, with very few red meat offerings. Meat eaters should try the smoked turkey sandwich and the chicken salad. Vegetarians will just adore the stuffed tomato salad and Portuguese bean soup. To complete the “healthy ensemble,” vitamins are also sold at the counter. There are snacks you can grab and go, as well as t-shirt souvenirs you can buy.

Of course, there are more places to try when in Molokai. This is just a sampling of what is good in the island. When you visit, explore all of Molokai, including the goodies that it offers the culinary adventurer. With the many plantations that mark its landscape and the rich waters that surround it, you will surely find only the freshest and the best foods on the island. Your taste buds will surely crave for more.