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Most Disproportionately Popular Cuisine in Hawaii According to Yelp

Hawaiian cuisine is the most disproportionately popular cuisine in Hawaii according to the Huffington Post and Yelp (depicted Hawaiian spread from People’s Cafe)

Not surprisingly, according to Yelp’s most current statistics, the most disproportionately popular cuisine in Hawaii is Hawaiian. Duh!

Except what do they mean by “most disproportionate”? Well, the Huffington Post recently published a report in their business section titled  Here is the Most Disproportionately Popular Cuisine in Each State, on their collaboration with Yelp to find out “what types of cuisine are most likely to appear in each state”.

According to that Huffington Post article, “To get the data for the map, Yelp first calculated the percentage of total restaurants each cuisine represented in a given state. Then, it compared each percentage with the cuisine’s representation in restaurants nationwide.”

So in saying “Hawaiian cuisine is disproportionately the most popular in Hawaii”, they mean in comparison to how that cuisine’s popularity ranks on the national average with other states who’s restaurants list ‘Hawaiian’ in whole or part of the cuisine they offer.

Here’s the U.S. national map made by HuffPost that shows the cuisines with a disproportionate level of representation in each state:

Image source: HuffingtonPost.com

HuffPost and Yelp broke down the top 5 most popular cuisine in each state, and this was the results for the Aloha State:


  1. Hawaiian — 5028 percent higher than national average.
  2. Ramen — 1443 percent higher than national average.
  3. Filipino — 809 percent higher than national average.
  4. Korean — 465 percent higher than national average.
  5. Food stands — 380 percent higher than national average.

Wow, there’s 5,028% more restaurants that list themselves on Yelp as serving Hawaiian cuisine in Hawaii than any other state in the nation? That sure sounds lofty!

I’m quite surprised Ramen comes in second before Japanese, and I’m very surprised Chinese isn’t in the top 5 at all for Hawaii. Actually, if this study were to be based just on the island of Oahu, I would think Japanese would be the most popular, with Chinese 2nd and Hawaiian 3rd.

Interestingly, guess who else ranked #1 for Hawaiian cuisine as the most disproportionately popular? The state of Utah! Utah?


  1. Hawaiian — 241 percent higher than national average.
  2. Hot dogs — 54 percent higher than national average.
  3. Mexican — 50 percent higher than national average.
  4. Comfort food — 41 percent higher than national average.
  5. Burgers — 38 percent higher than national average.

Which surprisingly beat out Nevada, a.k.a. the “Ninth Hawaiian Island” (specifically Las Vegas) by one ranking:


  1. Filipino – 277 percent higher than national average.
  2. Hawaiian — 238 percent higher than national average.
  3. Buffets — 156 percent higher than national average.
  4. Steak — 84 percent higher than national average.
  5. Vegan — 66 percent higher than national average.

I’m actually not surprised Filipino is #1 there, as there are many P.I. transplants that work in the hotels there.

Oregon is also known to have many Hawaii expats, yet Hawaiian ranked #4 there:


  1. Food stands — 404 percent higher than national average.
  2. Gluten-free — 170 percent higher than national average.
  3. Vegan — 153 percent higher than national average.
  4. Hawaiian — 145 percent higher than national average.
  5. Thai — 127 percent higher than national average.

For the rest of the states’ most popular cuisine rank listings, please see the full Huffington Post article here.

Remember now, this is based just on restaurants that list themselves as serving that cuisine, not on Yelp reviews or a restaurant’s popularity.

Reader and friend Ken W. brought this article to my attention, notably pointing out his original home state of Rhode Island where Portuguese cuisine ranks #1. And and I got into an interesting one-on-one conversation with him about that, in how there’s surprisingly almost ZERO presence of Portuguese cuisine featured at restaurants around Hawaii. This, in regard to how many folks here in the Aloha State (including myself with 50%) have Portuguese heritage. However, we’ll reserve that conversation for comments.

Food for thought! :-)

P.S. Yelp also just published the 2015 top 100 restaurants in the nation based on Yelp reviews, and 8 Hawaii restaurants made the list!

Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for 2015

1. Copper Top BBQ – Big Pine, CA
2. Art of Flavors – Las Vegas, NV
3. Soho Japanese Restaurant – Las Vegas, NV
4. TKB Bakery and Deli – Indio, CA
5. Ono Seafood – Honolulu, HI
6. Shark Pit Maui – Lahaina, HI
7. Gaucho Parilla Argentina – Pittsburgh, PA
8. Bobboi Natural Gelato – La Jolla, CA
9. Golden Bear Trading Company – San Francisco, CA
10. Little Miss BBQ – Phoenix, AZ
11. Dat Cajun Guy – Haleiwa, HI
12. Sweet Dogs – Miami, FL
13. Aviva by Kameel – Atlanta, GA
14. Sweet Spice – Savannah, GA
15. Royal Taj – Columbia, MD
16. Arun’s Indian Kichen – Coral Spring, FL
17. Hall’s Chophouse – Charleston, SC
18. Bronze Cafe – Las Vegas, NV
19. Saffron and Rose Ice Cream – Los Angeles, CA
20. Buddha Thai Bistro – Vacaville, CA
21. Yoshino Japanese Deli – Carlsbad, CA
22. Big Al’s Pizzeria – Maywood, CA
23. Andytown Coffee Roasters – San Francisco, CA
24. Kech Cafe – Fountain Valley, CA
25. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, KS
26. Los Andes Restaurant – Providence, RI
27. Lahaina Luna Cafe – Lahaina, HI
28. Bell Street Farm – Los Alamos, CA
29. Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana BC – Chula Vista, CA
30. Detroit Coney Grill – Tempe, AZ
31. Sessions West Coast Deli – Newport Beach, CA
32. Baguette Cafe – Las Vegas, NV
33. Carrara Pastries – Moorpark, CA
34. Bogart’s Smokehouse – Saint Louis, MO
35. Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia, PA
36. Piperi Mediterranean Grill – Boston, MA
37. Kitchen Table Cafe – Denver, CO
38. Mood Cafe – Philadelphia, PA
39. Santos Lucha Libre – Phoenix, AZ
40. Porto’s Bakery – Burbank, CA
41. El Dorado Cantina – Las Vegas, NV
42. Jougert Bar – Burlingame, CA
43. Araya’s Place Thai Vegan Restaurant – Los Angeles, CA
44. Joe’s Falafel – Los Angeles, CA
45. Persimmon Cafe – Charleston, SC
46. Beiler’s Bakery – Philadelphia, PA
47. Starbread – Sacramento, CA
48. Kersmon Caribbean Restaurant – Greenacres, FL
49. Vitality Tap – San Diego, CA
50. Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Downers Grove, IL
51. Da Poke Shack – Kailua Kona, HI
52. Poke Express – Las Vegas, NV
53. Marukame Udon – Honolulu, HI
54. Bronzed Aussie – Los Angeles, CA
55. Bite Into Maine – Cape Elizabeth, ME
56. Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX
57. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – San Diego, CA
58. Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What? – Austin, TX
59. Mama D’s Italian Kitchen – Newport Beach, CA
60. Outlaws Cafe – Van Nuys, CA
61. Subculture Extraordinary Sandwiches – Huntington Beach, CA
62. Go Greek Yogurt – Beverly Hills, CA
63. Ninja Sushi and Teriyaki – Roseville, CA
64. Los Agaves – Santa Barbara, CA
65. Sal, Kris, & Charlie’s Deli – Astoria, NY
66. Genie Den – Garden Grove, CA
67. Garbo’s Grill – Key West, FL
68. T-Deli – San Diego, CA
69. Rose’s Luxury – Washington, DC
70. Embargo Grill – San Diego, CA
71. Your Kitchen – Honolulu, HI
72. LouEddie’s Pizza – Skyforest, CA
73. Blues City Deli – Saint Louis, MO
74. Dametra Cafe – Carmel, CA
75. Nick’s Next Door – Los Gatos, CA
76. Don Julio’s Rincon Latin Grill and Pupusas – Rohnert Park, CA
77. Mr. Mama’s – Las Vegas, NV
78. Los Tacos No. 1 – New York, NY
79. Beyer Deli – San Diego, CA
80. Mojo Donuts – Pembroke Pines, FL
81. Peter’s Kettle Corn – Oakland, CA
82. The Pocket Burger Shack – Sunset Beach, CA
83. Mouthful Eatery – Thousand Oaks, CA
84. Playground 2.0 – Santa Ana, CA
85. Monell’s Dining & Catering – Nashville, TN
86. Zenwich – Elmhurst, IL
87. Commonwealth Restaurant – Burbank, CA
88. Istanbul Grill California – Fountain Valley, CA
89. Mister Falafel – San Diego, CA
90. Vietnam Poblano – Houston, TX
91. Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering – Waipahu, HI
92. Yak’s On The 5 – Dunsmuir, CA
93. Titas Taco House – Humble, TX
94. Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana – Phoenix, AZ
95. Eli’s BBQ – Cincinnati, OH
96. Johnny Pacific – Winnetka, CA
97. The Cinnamon Snail – New York, NY
98. Cafe la Maude – Philadelphia, PA
99. Cream Pan – Tustin, CA
100. Pi-Hi Cafe – Chicago, IL


16 thoughts on “Most Disproportionately Popular Cuisine in Hawaii According to Yelp

  • January 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Eh Pomai, I’ve eaten at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.  Great food and Bassett’s ice cream is so ono!  Also Beiler’s bakery which is in the list is located there.

  • January 23, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Hey, I’ve been to Reading Terminal Market too, since my mom’s from Pennsylvania.  We had the Bassett’s ice cream and the roast pork sandwich at Dinic’s.  Also, the mac and cheese from Delilah’s.

    I looked at the rest of the list and other than Tanioka’s, the only other one I’ve eaten at is Nick’s Next Door in Los Gatos, CA.  First time ever trying bone marrow there, yum!


  • January 24, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Wow, two votes for Reading Terminal in Philly, aye? Must be really good!

    Well, both of you NEED to try Ono Seafood (ranked on Yelp 2015’s TOP 5!) on Kapahulu Avenue. By far THE BEST POKE on the island, if not the WORLD!

    • January 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Reading Terminal Market is a foodie’s delight.  They even have Amish food!  As for poke, surprisingly I don’t eat raw fish.  I didn’t eat it growing up so I never acquired the taste for it.

  • January 24, 2015 at 9:54 am

    The disproportionate popularity of Hawaiian cuisine in Utah is because of the mormon connection.


    • January 24, 2015 at 1:31 pm


      Please clarify your assessment. We have a significant amount of Mormons here in Hawaii, however, how does the Mormon Church affect the popularity of Hawaiian food in Utah (let alone Hawaii), according to Yelp?

      And BTW, great to hear from you, stranger! :-)

      • January 24, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        I would think it’s because there are many Polynesians of the Mormon faith that live in Utah, thus the many Hawaiian food restaurants in the state.

  • January 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Growing up in Rhode Island on RI/MA boarder in a predominately Portuguese and Cape Verde neighborhood my family Sunday going out to dinners was always Italian-American, Chinese-American or French-Canadian all you can eat family style chicken dinners. I guess because you got a lot of food for the price not that we were considered poor by any means. In New England states each ethnic race pretty much creates their own neighborhoods and lives tightly together. As time progressed my family moved into other neighborhoods; Jewish-American, Irish-American, Italian-American and African-American but my mom and dad always took the family out to the same basic three ethnic food restaurants and we did eat all week Americanized New England Regional Cuisine which was your basic boiled, stewed or fried meals derived from everyone’s cultural cuisine. When I got married I moved into RI’s predominately French-Canadian city that had more Vietnamese, Chinese and Italian pizza restaurants on almost every street corner; I started eating more diversely in cuisine. Now that I live in Hawaii and look back, I would have expected RI to be Italian and Irish cuisine in that order but when I stop and think, there are a lot of Portuguese restaurants, Portuguese Bakeries and Portuguese grocery stores throughout RI and neighboring City of Fall River, MA which is almost entirely a Portuguese population. Neighboring City of New Bedford, MA was the whaling capitol of New England which sailed into Azores, Portugal to pick up sailors and on to Hawaii.

  • January 24, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Just as I have mentioned to you Hawaii Portuguese Sausage is different than old world Portuguese Linguica and Chorizo (NOT related to Spanish or Mexican Chorizo) made by the 5 major mainland Portuguese Sausage Maker Factories all located in Fall River, MA. so is Portuguese Malassadas made in New England where old world Portuguese-Americans live. If you happen to be in New England and want of taste of old world Portuguese tradition and food make sure you are in the City of New Bedford, MA area end of July thru start of August for the year 2015 101st Annual Portuguese Feast of the Blessed Sacrament: http://portuguesefeast.com/
    I used to sail out of New Bedford Harbor as a volunteer deckhand crewman on the 100 year old tall ship schooner “Ernestina”100 ft. long taking troubled young adults out into the ocean to teach them discipline. There was no automation or engine and everything had to be done by hand and ropes. Main sail weighted 1 ton and had to be raised by rope hand-over-hand.

    • January 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm


      You never fail to amaze me of all your accomplishments, adding now your deckhand stint on the “Ernestina”, helping troubled youth. You are THE MAN!

      And I definitely need to put the east coast on my travel to-do list. I’d like to do Rhode Island and Massachusetts, then hop to New York, then finish in Key West.

      @ David – Many of the Mormons on Oahu are Samoan.

  • January 26, 2015 at 5:52 am


    Guess space was limited, but did you notice that Hawaiian food was #5 in Alaska and California? But wassup with Washington? Washington, at least has Japanese at #5, the only state where it shows up in the top 5 (tho Ramen in Hawaii is close…). Looking at the list, Illinois jumps out for the preponderance of Middle Eastern/Indian/Pakistani cuisine. This list should open up peoples’ eyes as to the cultural diversity of America and hints as to where the various concentrations of ethnicities have emerged.

  • January 26, 2015 at 5:59 am

    I’ll also add some observations on the Alabama list; over all, the list holds true to Alabama’s cultural makeup; no surprise that Southern/BBQ/Soul Food and chicken make up 4 of the top 5; and Cajun isn’t too far a reach, as Mardi Gras actually began in Mobile, AL. Looking at the south in general (Arkansas to the Carolinas; FL really doesn’t count), the top 5s reflect the relatively traditional nature of the dominant cuisines. One could even make a case for political POVs being reflected by the food demographics… We are, it seems, what we eat.

  • January 26, 2015 at 6:22 am


    Excellent analysis. And no, I didn’t notice Hawaiian made the top 5 in California and Alaska, although I should have. After all, we have several family members and friends from Hawaii who either are or once called both Alaska and California home. I still find it odd how Hawaiian is #1 in Utah. Don’t know anyone personally from here that’s moved there.

    Have you met any other Hawaii expats that live in Alabama? Always fun to run across a fellow Kama’aina on the mainland by spotting them out with their Town & Country Surf T-shirt or the Kamehameha Schools sticker on their car window. IIRC, you once said there’s some pretty good asian grocery stores in ‘Bama.

    From what I notice, it seems most of the asian stores in the central and eastern states are either run by Koreans or Vietnamese, where as on the west side, there’s more Japanese import grocery stores such as Marukai, Nijiya Market and Iwajimaya in Washington state. Interestingly, those Japanese markets on the west coast also import lots of Made in Hawaii products such as Hawaiian Sun Juice, Mac Nuts, Poi and Portuguese Sausage, to name a few.

    As for political points-of-view reflected by food demographics, I suppose that’s true for Hawaii as well. If that’s the case, we should be called the “Shave Ice” state: colorful, sugar-coated, full of beans, and melts fast. lol

  • January 26, 2015 at 9:53 am


    I thought this information was very interesting. I thought the Vietnamese influence in Wa was a little high, but then I started to realize how many Pho places we really have around here that would make the stat more believable.

    I do have to chime in on Ken’s comments. Whenever he talks about New England, it always takes me back. My father’s family is from Fall River, Ma. and I used to get to visit in the summer when I was a kid. When he mentioned the “Chinese-American” cuisine, I had to laugh a little.  It is the only place I have ever seen a “chop suey sandwich”!  New England is an amazing place to visit,  I wouldn’t want to live there though!  Emeril Lagasse is from Fall River as well as Lizzie Borden among many others I am sure!

  • January 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    @ Doreen, wonderful to hear another person knows and understands the Southern New England tradition of eating high quality cuisine on fine silver, china, white table cloth and paired wine; excellent “chop suey sandwich” wrapped in wax paper. Hoo-Mee Chow Mein noodles and Hoo-Mee Gravy Mix are still made in Fall River, Ma and are the defacto standard of excellence. It doesn’t get any better!

  • January 27, 2015 at 5:39 am

    The reason I picked American is because I love BBQ and Fried Chicken. I am I sucker for a good steak and cheeseburgers. Sure all the ethnic food is great, but if I could only eat one kind of food, it would be American.


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