The Best Hawaiian Restaurants In Seattle

Some of our favorite plate lunches, poke, and spam musubi in town.
The Best Hawaiian Restaurants In Seattle image

Historically, Hawaiian dishes consist of a lot more than just plate lunches and poke—they’re influenced by Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, and Chinese cuisines. And since a flight from SeaTac to Hawai’i takes about the same amount of time as it does to fly to the East Coast, it makes sense that there’s a lot of excellent Hawaiian food in Seattle. Here are six of our favorites in town. Get ready for some mac salad.



West Seattle

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Marination, like the Etch-A-Sketch or The Pharcyde’s “Drop” music video, is an absolute classic. That’s because this West Seattle staple serves incredible Hawaiian food, from what they call “sexy” tofu covered in creamy “nunya” sauce to their pork katsu sandwich and kimchi fried rice. Not to mention the macaroni salad studded with salty cubes of Spam. We love sitting out on the patio without a care in the world (and with kalbi beef/lychee margaritas in our stomachs).

Our favorite poke in Seattle is actually about a dozen miles northwest of Downtown. This Hawaiian spot is located at a shopping center just outside downtown Edmonds, and their menu of seasoned and cubed fish has us giving up on making lunch at home ever again. From oyster-sauced salmon to spicy ahi soaked in shoyu and showered with flecks of togarashi, the marinades here are always on-point, especially when they start to seep through each grain of sushi rice underneath. Round out your bowl with tangy cucumber kimchi and a pile of mac salad that comes with ridged elbow noodles to catch every bit of mayo.

photo credit: Nate Watters

This convenience store has two sides—one is devoted to crunchy snacks and fridges full of frosty beverage cans, and the other is devoted to a poke operation. And it’s some fantastic diced raw fish, with plenty of punch from the shoyu marinade and drizzles of spicy mayo. The rice is always fluffy, and there’s tons of texture coming from frizzled onion, shredded crab salad, and toasted sesame seeds. If the weather is warm and you feel obligated to reject all other responsibilities in favor of snacking on cubic tuna in the park, this is the city’s best picnic-worthy poke.

Some of the best plate lunches in the city can be found at a counter in the Uwajimaya food court. That’s where you’ll find Aloha Plates, which serves delicious loco moco complete with a tasty butter patty, fluffy rice, thick brown gravy, and a fried egg that’s flawlessly runny even after we rode home in the car. Then there’s the kalua pork that puts most BBQ spots in town to shame for its tenderness alone. But if you’re here for one thing, don’t miss the huli huli chicken—our fork dropped with a dramatic soap opera clang after we tasted this smoky, flavorful thigh meat for the first time.

Since fries are such a beautiful invention, we’re skeptical when restaurants try to turn non-potato foods into fries. But one of the best incarnations of deep-fried sticks goes to Sam Choy’s crispy spam fries dunked in tonkatsu sauce. Now that that’s out of the way, we also stop by this Hillman City poke shop for the buttery marinated raw salmon (which we prefer over their ahi tuna). Whether you order yours tossed in shoyu or spicy mayo, as a rice bowl or as a filling for crunchy tacos smeared with edamame hummus, you’re in good hands here. Just note that this is the only spot on this guide where the macaroni salad is sold a la carte—so don’t forget to add it on.

This Mt. Baker spot serves both Hawaiian and Thai food, and since we love almost everything on the menu, we typically spend more time deciding what to order than we do actually eating. We’re also big fans of their pad Thai and garlic shrimp, but the chicken is excellent, too—they have both huli huli as well as guava-marinated versions. Each bowl comes with some rice, a cabbage slaw, and a big scoop of really tangy and al dente mac salad.

For some of the best poke in Seattle proper, head to this Central District seafood market. Seattle Fish Guys’ offerings range from classic soy sauce-coated ahi to chunky scallops and an abundance of tobiko, with occasional fun specials like kanpachi or miso tuna. The mac salad involves shredded smoked salmon, and the warm rice comes seasoned with furikake. Create a bowl and eat inside to watch the expert fishmongers at work. Or, order a la carte by the pound for a Lake Washington boat day.

Poke Plus on Capitol Hill is an ideal spot to create your own franken-poke with loads of toppings, ranging from mango and pineapple to corn and edamame. The sauce options are not skimpy either.  Sweet chili sauce and wasabi mayo are perfect sidekicks for an (already very full) bowl. For a three-scoop fish option and unlimited additions ringing in less than $15, you’re getting a great lunch deal.

We’ve had many conversations with friends, family, and complete strangers about why spam musubi is one of life’s great creations—they’re sweet, salty, and the perfect handheld snack. The ones from Kauai Family Restaurant stand out as some of the best we’ve had because of their perfect spam-to-rice ratio. If you’re not into meat from a can, this Georgetown spot also has a great Filipino sausage version along with a full menu of plate lunches and made-to-order poke that’s not overly sauced.

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