It’s no surprise that Long Island loves 7-Eleven. You’d think the convenience store looks the same across the country, but with Hawaii’s unique location comes a melting pot of cultures, from which comes a fusion of cuisines. And you’d bet the stores are sure to reflect that.
Here are some of the things that you can only find at 7-Elevens in the Aloha State.
Let’s start outside.
Looks like any other 7-Eleven right? This one is located in Kaka'ako on the island of Oahu.
The inside looks pretty typical.
They still offer Slurpees, chips, pizza, hot dogs, nachos—you know—the usual convenience store delicacies. But wait, there’s more.
How to pronounce it: Mon-JOO
Manju is a popular Japanese soft and crumbly dessert made with wheat flour and often filled with a sweet bean paste. Here, it’s taro.
Taro is a staple in the Hawaiian and Polynesian diet. It's the corm of the Colocasia esculenta plant and kind of has a potato-like texture.
How to pronounce it: MO-chee
Similar to manju, mochi is a sweet and sticky Japanese rice cake except it’s made with rice flour and covered in potato starch. They’re often filled with a sweet bean paste or even more modernly, peanut butter.
Poi mochi donuts
How to pronounce it: Like “boy” but with a “p”
This teething ring-looking thing combines the wonders of a donut, mochi, and poi.
What is poi? It's basically cooked (usually boiled) taro and water—pounded together to create a purple probiotic-packed paste.
The donut is chewy, like mochi and coated with a sugar glaze.
The hot foods
In this case, they have hot grab-and-go meals. There’s sandwiches, hot dogs, bentos and musubis. A what? What’s a musubi?
How to pronounce it: MOO-soo-bee
Spam musubis to Hawaii locals are like pizza to New Yorkers. They're a quick, cheap, easy, go-to meal when you can't decide what you want to eat. Hawaii's love affair with the canned meat can be traced back to the World War II era when food was scarce.
Similar to sushi, a Spam musubi is a block of rice topped with a slice of cooked spam wrapped together with a sheet of seaweed. A Spam musubi is best eaten warm.
How to pronounce it: MA-nah-poo-AH
A manapua is a soft, fluffy bun filled with meat. They can be steamed or baked and are usually filled with char siu (Chinese barbecued pork). They're often filled with savory foods like chicken, curry, kalua pig, vegetables or sometimes sweet like coconut, black sugar, or sweet potato. You can find them at 7-Eleven already warm and ready to eat in the hot foods section or packaged in the cold foods section.
And the cold foods section has all kinds of interesting things
Where to begin? This is not a good place for indecisive people.
Bento galore! Some of the boxed lunches offered include garlic chicken, fried chicken, teriyaki chicken, thai curry, noodles, salisbury steak, macaroni and cheese, fettuccine alfredo and breakfast options.
How to pronounce it: Fuh
This Vietnamese noodle soup comes with red onions, green onions, basil and thin slices of beef. No need to add extra water, just pop it into the microwave for two minutes and you can have a hot bowl of pho.
How to pronounce it: Sigh-min
Similar to pho and ramen, it’s Hawaii’s version of a noodle soup. Much like its culture, saimin represents a blend of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino influences. The broth is lighter than ramen and saltier than pho. Typical saimin garnishes include green onions, egg, spam, char siu, and kamaboko (fish cake). They even have these on the menu at the local McDonald’s.
How to pronounce it: po-keh
Poke is cubed raw fish marinated in different sauces. A popular poke combination is spicy ahi (like the one pictured) which is made of sriracha sauce, mayonnaise, sesame oil, ahi tuna and soy sauce. This popular Hawaiian dish has quickly found its way to the East Coast and a few poke restaurants have recently popped up across Long Island as well.
How to pronounce it: LOW-co MOE-co
Loco Moco is a comfort dish in Hawaii. While there’s many variations of the dish, the traditional loco moco consists of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and drizzled with brown gravy.
There are common ones including California roll and salmon roll and more interesting ones such as spicy garlic ahi, spicy shrimp katsu and a kalua pork and cabbage roll. (We’ll get more to kalua pork in a bit.)
How to pronounce it: So-min
Somen salad is a cold noodle dish you’re likely to see at any potluck in Hawaii. It’s somen noodles topped with egg, cucumber, lettuce, ham and kamaboko (fish cake), and usually dipped or drenched in a soy-based sauce right before eating.
Spicy Ahi Inari
How to pronounce it: EE-Nah-ree
Inari refers to a "cone sushi" and this one is stuffed with spicy ahi.
This "Menehune Pack" has comes with an onigiri, or rice ball wrapped with seaweed, scrambled eggs and mini sausages or a few pieces of garlic chicken.
How to pronounce it: How-pee-ah
Haupia is a tofu-like coconut pudding and a classic, simple Hawaiian dessert. It’s typically served at the end of a luau. If Hawaii isn’t in your travel plans anytime soon, here’s an easy recipe.
How to pronounce it: Just like the drink (but no relation to the drink)
Kalua pork (or often called Kalua pig) is a Hawaiian-style smoked pulled pork traditionally cooked in an underground oven (called an imu) for several hours. But no need to dig an underground oven here, just pop it in the microwave for a few minutes.
If you can handle spicy, this one’s for you. This Kimchi fried rice bento has bits of the spicy pickled vegetables and is topped with a Korean-style pork.
Crack seed is a popular Hawaii snack that typically refers to dried, preserved fruits and candies. A popular type of crack seed is li hing mui.
Li hing everything
How to pronounce it: Lee-hing-mooy
What’s li hing mui? It’s a dried sweet and sour plum that you can eat, but it also comes in powder form. It’s commonly sprinkled over pretty much anything for that added boost of flavor. You can usually find it sprinkled over pineapples, apples, mangoes, popcorn—even in margaritas! Here, the reddish-pink powder is mixed and packaged with gummy candies.
Really, li hing is everywhere.
Here it is, in seed form, frozen in a lilikoi (passion fruit) flavored ice pop.
How to pronounce it: AH-da-day
You may hear some locals refer to it as kakimochi, arare, or mochi crunch--but they all mean the same thing. It’s a crunchy Japanese rice cracker flavored with soy sauce. It’s commonly eaten by itself or with popcorn. In fact, they even sell these at movie theaters. You can find it with or without li hing mui powder.
As you would expect, these are light, crunchy, airy chips made from shrimp. These are commonly served at Chinese restaurants alongside roast duck, or you can just eat them by themselves.
But there is one thing you can't find there...
Lottery tickets. Gambling is illegal in Hawaii. So if you win the lottery in New York and decide to use it for an extended Hawaiian vacation—just make sure you have enough for the trip back.