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Classic Hawaiian Cookbooks - HOP to it

Five classic Hawaiian cuisine chefs, five classic cookbooks
October 12, 2017

Sam Choy, Beverly Gannon, Peter Merriman, Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, five of the original 12 members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, all have signature cookbooks. Like their restaurants, the books still hold up today. For many people, it isn't a trip to Hawai'i without visiting one of their dining locations. What follows is a quick synopsis of their most popular cookbooks. If you want to take a piece of Hawaii home with you, you might as take the piece that lives inside your belly! All of these books are available from Amazon, with the exception of the Merriman book, for which you'll need to swing by one of his restaurants or order directly from his website. The cookbooks below are listed chronologically. Bon appetit!

"With Sam Choy: Cooking from the Heart" - Sam Choy, Evelyn Cook (1995)
"With Sam Choy: Cooking from the Heart" tells the story of Sam Choy, one of the main faces and personalities behind the Hawai'ian food revolution of the early '90s, through his recipes and words. Often called the "Godfather of Poke," his engaging, out-sized personality shows through in the food descriptions and when he's "talking story" throughout the book. In fact, there are personal stories for nearly every one of the 130 recipes. Whether the story is about the inspiration behind the recipe or why he would present the dish in a certain fashion, it's these little anecdotes that make reading the book a real pleasure.

Chef Choy has one Big Island restaurant: Sam Choy's Kai Lanai

"Roy's Feasts from Hawaii" - Roy Yamaguchi and John Harrison (1995)
With over 150 recipes, Roy Yamaguchi steps out from the kitchen and shares the secrets behind his award-winning dishes. It's a beautiful book containing lots of pictures and wonderful recipes. Along the way, he slowly tells the story of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine through each recipe. At first glance, the recipes can seem overwhelming due to the sheer number ingredients, but a deeper read shows that most home cooks, regardless of their skill level in the kitchen, can follow along with a majority of the recipes.

Chef Yamaguchi's restaurants in Hawai'i:
Maui: Roy's Ka'anapali
Big Island: Roy's Waikola
Oahu: Roy's Hawaii Kai, Roy's Ko Olina, Roy's Turtle Bay, Roy's Waikiki

"New Wave Luau" - Alan Wong and John Harrison (1999)
Probably the most adventurous of the five chefs whose books we're looking at for this article, Wong masterfully blends classic recipes with a playful whimsy to create foods that will bring smiles and winks from your dinner guests. The kalbi short rib tacos with papaya-red onion salsa is nothing short of breathtaking and actually quite easy to make. The book is filled with wonderful recipe intros and lots of pictures. The recipes themselves are well-written and easy to follow.

Chef Wong's restaurants: Alan Wong's Honolulu; Alan Wong's Shanghai

"Hali'imaile General Store Cookbook" - Beverly Gannon and Bonnie Friedman (2000)
After a nice intro about her family, the restaurant's neighborhood and the restaurant itself, chef/restauranteur Beverly Gannon breaks the cookbook into seasons, starting with spring and ending, naturally, in winter. Along the way, the recipes are well laid out, easy to follow and there are plenty of photos. Hali'imaile General Store is one of the most popular and well-reviewed restaurants on Maui. If you loved eating here, you'll be thrilled to recreate the signature dishes (minus, sadly, the crab dip) at home.

Chef Gannon's Maui restaurants: Gannon's (Wailea); Hali'imaile General Store (Makawao)

"Merriman's Hawai'i" - Peter Merriman and Melanie P. Merriman (2015)
Starting with an intro by renowned chef Peter Bayless, "Merriman's Hawai'i" covers 75 recipes over 262 pages. There are gorgeous pictures for every recipe. Even better, reading this book is like taking a culinary tour of the Big Island. As you're reading, you'll meet local artisans who supply the "farm" portion of his farm-to-table culinary ethic. Maybe because it's the most recently published, this book is the sharpest looking and most interesting read of the five cookbooks in this article.

Chef Merriman's restaurants:
Maui: Merrimans (Kapalua), Hula Grill (Ka'anapali), Monkeypod (Wailea), Monkeypod (Ka'anapali opening Fall, 2017)
Big Island: Merriman's (Waimea)
Kauai: Merriman's (Poipu), Gourmet Pizza and Burgers by Merriman (Poipu)
Oahu: Moku Kitchen (Honolulu), Monkeypod (Ko Olina)

Do you have a favorite Hawai'ian food-based cookbook? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Blogs for October 2017

Best Malasadas on Maui - HOP To It

Posted on October 17, 2017

There are so many good malasadas on Maui, it's hard to narrow the list down to just five, but after weeks of agonizing research, we think we've come up with the definitive list. But first, the ground rules. We're sticking with bakeries and shops that serve malasadas "to… Continue Reading

Best Farmers Markets on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 16, 2017

The state of Hawai'i imports roughly 85% - 90% (by most estimates) of its food. This leaves Maui in a somewhat precarious situation. First, if for some reason we were cut off from the mainland, it wouldn't take long for there to be massive food shortages. Second,… Continue Reading

Safe Snorkeling in Maui

Posted on October 14, 2017

Known for the warm, clear waters and colorful marine life, it would be a shame if you missed the unique opportunity of snorkeling in Maui. Enjoyable for all ages, snorkeling offers the chance to glimpse at a whole other world built just under the water’s surface! Whether… Continue Reading

Classic Hawaiian Cookbooks - HOP to it

Posted on October 12, 2017

Sam Choy, Beverly Gannon, Peter Merriman, Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, five of the original 12 members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, all have signature cookbooks. Like their restaurants, the books still hold up today. For many people, it isn't a trip to Hawai'i without visiting… Continue Reading

Best Food Trucks on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 11, 2017

Food trucks keep sprouting up on Maui and we couldn't be happier. The quality of food at the trucks listed below rival anything you'll eat at high end restaurants. While you'll find classic Hawai'ian dishes like poke, you can also find ethnic foods that are generally underserved… Continue Reading

Fun Facts About the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa

Posted on October 08, 2017

We are sure that you have heard of Hawaii’s state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, and have been challenged to sound out this seemingly complicated set of letters. Lucky for you, we won’t make you do that and will often refer to this fish as “humuhumu” like the locals do.… Continue Reading

The Harmful Effects of Sunscreen on our Oceans

Posted on October 07, 2017

Sunscreens have been making headlines lately due to their contribution to coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Coral bleaching is the phenomenon whereby coral loses its color and rejects symbiotic organisms, essentially killing the coral. While rising sea temperatures are the main culprit behind coral bleaching, researchers believe… Continue Reading

Best Asian Noodle Joints on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 06, 2017

Noodle dishes and bowls come in all shapes and sizes. While Oahu may have some of the best ramen restaurants in the world, Maui definitely doesn't. But ramen isn't the only noodle dish in town. Maui does have excellent saimin, a local noodle soup, a bit like ramen,… Continue Reading

Best Tide Pools on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 05, 2017

Maui is blessed with miles and miles of sandy beaches. Not all beaches, though, have tide pools. In fact, most don't have them. But when you come across a great tide pool, you can use it as an ecological teaching moment for children or just enjoy the… Continue Reading

Best Golf Courses on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 04, 2017

Maui is home to many fine golf courses, far more than the five listed here. With the exception of one, all of the courses here are public. The one club that is private offers one-day guest memberships for visitors. From courses that double as PGA stops to municipal courses with… Continue Reading

Best Tropical Gardens on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 03, 2017

While it seems odd to spend money to see plants and flowers on Maui when they are so prevalent for free, sometimes it's helpful to see all the different types of flora in one location. For you Instagrammers, tropical gardens present excellent flower photo and selfie opportunities.… Continue Reading

Best Coffee Shop on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on October 02, 2017

A good coffee shop is somewhere you want to nest, a place where you can do anything from check your email to chat with friends. For this list, we aren't talking about the best coffee. Instead, we are talking about are the best places to enjoy coffee.… Continue Reading


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Best Malasadas on Maui - HOP To It
  (Posted: October 17, 2017)

Best Farmers Markets on Maui - HOP to it
  (Posted: October 16, 2017)

Safe Snorkeling in Maui
  (Posted: October 14, 2017)

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