The Hawaiian islands are considered to be heaven on Earth not only for their gorgeous beaches and welcoming weather, but also for the mélange of mouthwatering food available.

One of the quintessential meals revered by locals and visitors to Hawaii alike is the plate lunch. The origin of the plate lunch is attributed to the island’s plantation workers in the late 1800s. Originally hailing from faraway nations like the Philippines, China, Japan, and Portugal, workers would often pack their traditional leftover meals for lunch. These meals typically included rice from last night’s dinner and leftover or canned meat.

The mix of cultures is translated in the entrees available with plate lunches today. Each plate lunch is typically served in a plastic container and  accompanied by two scoops of white rice, one hearty scoop of macaroni salad (usually heavy on the mayo), and an entree of your choice. Choices range from Hawaiian kalua pig, Korean kalbi, Chinese char siu, Japanese chicken katsu, and more.

The next time you find yourself hungry in Hawaii, give the plate lunch a try. It’s a great way to eat like the locals and sample the melting pot of dishes available on the islands.

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Have you ever tried a Hawaiian plate lunch? What Hawaiian meals are your favorite?