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Photograph: Liz Clayman Noreetuh

The best Hawaiian restaurants in NYC

At a Hawaiian restaurant in NYC, find island flavors in the urban jungle with everything from shave ice to seaweed

By Juliet Izon

The poke wave has crashed on New York much like an edible Banzai pipeline, but there’s so much more to a Hawaiian restaurant than just raw fish. From the best BBQ with Japanese influences to the best dessert filled with tropical fruit like coconut and lilikoi, the fare of Hawaii incorporates many different ethnic flavors to form one indomitable cuisine. Read on to discover the best Hawaiian food in New York, found everywhere from Williamsburg restaurants all the way up Harlem restaurants.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Hawaiian restaurants in NYC

Photograph: Filip Wolak

1. Noreetuh

Restaurants American East Village

While its name may mean “playground,” in Korean, the cuisine at this buzzy East Village spot is decidedly island fare. Chef Chung Chow utilizes the disparate influences of Japanese, Korean and Filipino culture on Hawaiian food to create dishes that might best be called “neo-island.” To wit: The popular spaghetti here is made with smoked cod, pollock roe, seaweed and chili.

Sweetcatch Poke Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Sweetcatch Poke

2. Sweetcatch Poke Bar

Restaurants Hawaiian Midtown East

Even your bodega might be serving poke these days, but for an authentic taste of the Hawaiian favorite, head to Midtown East. Unlike many other poke joints, which skip marinating the fish in favor of a quick toss in seasonings before serving, Sweetcatch offers up to a dozen different marinades. Try the classic Hawaiian shoyu, made with onions, seaweed and sesame seed.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sara S.

3. Onomea

Restaurants Hawaiian Williamsburg

This snug Williamsburg spot manages to cram all of Hawaii’s greatest hits onto one menu. There’s poke, of course, and the requisite Spam, which comes in musubi form (wrapped in seaweed like a piece of sushi) or with eggs and fried rice. Wash it all down with boozy island sips like guava mimosas and mango margaritas, or keep it clean with a simple coconut water.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jackie S.

4. Makana

Restaurants Hawaiian East Harlem

There may be more famous BBQ spots in Harlem, but none is more unique than the Japanese-Hawaiian fusion cuisine at Makana. While the menu has everything from sushi to saimin noodles, try the Makana plate for a true taste of island grub. Hawaii’s most famous lunch special, the burger-and-egg-topped Loco Moco, is on offer, as are BBQ favorites like kalua pig and kalbi short ribs.

Photograph: Courtesy Suzume

5. Suzume

Restaurants Japanese Williamsburg

Japanese food has left quite an indelible footprint on Hawaiian cuisine, and this Williamsburg spot blends the two effortlessly. Salmon poke sushi is spiked with tangy calamansi vinaigrette and citrus zest, while rice bowls can be topped with Hawaiian-style fried chicken and pineapple macaroni salad. For accompanying suds, there’s everything from a Kona Big Wave to Sapporo Reserve.

Mahalo New York Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Mahalo New York Bakery

6. Mahalo New York Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Williamsburg

Looking for something beyond the quotidian red velvet cupcake? This Glendale bakery specializes in fruity island flavors, like toasted coconut, pineapple-guava and mango. Mahalo also stocks the delicious but hard-to-find haupia pie, made with Belgian chocolate, haupia (coconut custard) and coconut whipped cream, plus an authentic shave ice sundae made with pineapple and lilikoi (passion fruit) ice and served with pineapple-caramel ice cream.

Want jerk chicken for dinner?


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