[Honolulu] Highway Inn - Traditional Hawaiian Food

Highway Inn gave us our first chance to try traditional Hawaiian food.

Full disclosure, we went to Highway Inn right after finishing our happy hour meal at Moku Kitchen.

There is so much on the menu to choose from that I asked the server's advice and chose the basic combo plate.

That way I got to sample five dishes. I wasn't sure what I thought of the food. It was different. That's what I wanted. But after trying everything and clearing my plate, I thought, now that I am a little bit educated, I would try other things on the menu. You have to try things. You have to move beyond your comfort zone. You have to admit when it's you and not the restaurant. If I get back to Hawaii, will I try the Highway Inn again? In a heartbeat. What will I try? I'll choose from the a la carte dishes and have fun trying new things.

I would recommend for you to try the combo plate on your first visit because you can mix and match items so you can choose how far in/out of your comfort zone you will go.

I got the combo plate. I decided to go for the Lau Lau, Poi, and Lomi Salmon for my choices. Every combo plate comes with the purple sweet potato and the Haupia (coconut dessert).
The Lau Lau was very tender and filling. I was a little iffy about it because of the pork (I have a pork sensitivity). The pork was done quite well and, I'm happy to say, it wasn't a disaster for me. I think the pork wasn't the super fatty/oily cut of pork, which was great. I really liked the butterfish, too. Everything fit so well together in terms of texture. I kind of wish there was a little bit more flavor to the food, but that is because I prefer a lot of spice and flavor and I probably could have asked for some extra sauce or something. The waitstaff was very helpful, so I'm sure they would have accommodated my questions and request without judging me too hard.

The Poi was pretty okay, but it's probably not for everyone. I wasn't a super huge fan, but I did consume a pretty decent portion of the HUGE portion I received. I didn't realize that I was going to be served a soup bowl full of poi. In terms of proportions, there was definitely more poi than I feel like is necessary for the amount of protein and lomi salmon I received. The poi kind of reminded me of some sort of raw dough I snuck a bite of as a child...it was just kind of a texture and flavor that reminded me of warm dough. It has a slightly sour flavor and the texture is soft, but semi-thick.

The Lomi Salmon was a little more acidic than I had anticipated. It did taste good with the Lau Lau, but maybe it would have gone the best with some of the other main protein choices, like maybe the Kalua Pork. 

The haupia was pretty good, but honestly, I was super full by the time I made it to dessert. It was nice and light and slightly sweet without being overly cloyingly sweet.

Sorry about the quality of this photo. I had a fight with my phone camera and lost, so no matter what I did, it got worse.
This was my mom's meal. She also went with the combo plate, but went with the Kalua Pig, Brown Rice, and Salad. The pork was super tender and smokey. She enjoyed it. She tried some of my poi and it was not for her. She made good choices for her preferences by choosing the brown rice and the salad.

The combo plate is a great option if you wanted to try some of the more traditional foods, but didn't want to go all in with an entire plate full of traditional food you're not sure you will like.
My dad ended up getting the Kalua Pig Sliders. The sliders came with 2 sliders, which were topped with some slaw and served alongside some taro and sweet potato chips. He loved the chips, so I definitely bought him some at the outlet (review forthcoming).

He had nothing but high praises for the sliders. The coleslaw was pretty light - not super creamy mayonnaise like you usually find on pork sandwiches.

Overall, Highway Inn is a great place to check out if you're curious about traditional Hawaiian food. There are plenty of options for people who may not be so keen on trying Hawaiian food, too. I could see it as a great place for a family gathering because there would be something for everyone.

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