Hawaiian Poke has become one of the defining
characterizes Hawaii’s culture. It is no longer an acquired
now a well sought after island treat! New Oahu based eateries
such as Ono Seafood, Da Hawaiian Poke Co, and Fresh Catch push the
limits and continue to amaze us with their innovating ahi tuna
“Poke” literary means to
cut. Appropriate description for the
art of cutting Ahi Tuna.
Take some sweet Maui onions, Hawaiian sea salt, limu, shoyu, and cubed cut triple AAA grade Ahi Tuna, and you got the makings for some Hawaiian Poke. And as simple as that sounds, poke has become more complex today with secret ingredients, fish selection, and creating master pieces as if it was art work on your plate! Sounds simple? Not so easy! All poke is not created equal! Mix those same ingredients in different establishments and you will find different results!
Not too long ago, you could only find ahi poke in a few special fish markets, like the Fort Ruger Market on Diamond Head, or the Ward Farmers Market in Kaka’ako, which closed back in 2008 to new development!
Award winning restaurants such as Alan Wong’s, Roy’s, and Chef Chai create their own signature version of this special appetizer. Some restaurants go as far as to make it an entree. And some places solely focus on serving poke itself.
Hawaiian Poke bowls have also become quite popular on the island, as it has in many other places. If you’re unfamiliar, these creations are substantial, typically on the healthier side, and actually taste good…make that great! With choices like kale, kelp noodles, edamame, jalapeno, cucumber, avocado, kimchee, along with lots of other exciting choices to mix up with your different styles of sashimi grade fish.
When you think of Poke, we generally refer to Ahi (Yellowfin Tuna) Poke. But there are many different styles and other types of raw fish to choose from. Make sure to sample salmon, shrimp, scallop, and Tako (octopus) which is my favorite. Poke shops will generally feature other specialties like a seaweed salad and kim chee.
Why is it that the hole-in-the-wall places tend to be the
eateries? No exception here, as
Ono Seafood continuously ranks
number 1 for their Hawaiian poke on the island.
The flavors and
freshness are amazingly noticeable. Their Shoyu Ahi, Spicy Ahi
& Hawaiian Style poke classics are crowd pleasers. There is a blusteriness of freshness to
the taste of their AAA grade ahi
Make sure to get a taste of their Miso Ahi &
Style Tako. And don’t be shy to try their Wasabi Ahi…even if
you’re not a fan of the spicy kick that you tend to get with wasabi.
Poke bowls are also available, including a combo and super poke bowl
if you have a hungry appetite! I personally love eating it ala
carte, because the poke here is so ono!
Finding Ono Seafood if a little tough, even though it’s off the main
strip on Kapahulu Ave! It’s hard to spot, because it’s a tiny
shop that resides in an apartment complex.
Finding it is one problem…parking is even worse, as there are only a few spots available. There’s even a full time attendant to help direct traffic, so Ono’s popularity doesn’t interrupt the residents.
Open Daily 7 AM to 6 PM, except closed on
747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Phone (808) 732-4806
Is it possible to have two of the best Hawaiian Poke companies
across the street from each other? That’s right, if you
manage to park in one of two parking spots at Ono Seafood’s, you might
have better luck across the street in the Kapahulu Shopping
Da Hawaiian Poke Company happens to be my favorite! It comes down to freshness and technique when creating similar styles of these popular poke dishes we love.
Poke bowl are quite popular here in Hawaii with a build-your-own option, and some special creations which they have mastered!
Hawaiian Poke Company has tasty topping such as a spicy or wasabi
aioli, Hawaiian sea salt, sesame oil, Korean chili, avocado, and
furikake (a dry Japanese sprinkling seasoning).
I love their simple yet special poke creations! I can’t
get enough of their Spicy Ahi Poke, Hawaiian Style poke, and their
Wasabi Furikake Salmon Poke.
They also have some amazing sushi-bar-like creations that are hard to pass up on, including their “Spicy Ahi Bomb, Maine Lobster California Bowl, and the Shaka Bowl…that will have you throwing a shaka after you see this master piece! Don’t forget to get a side of their special Blue Crab Potato Salad!
But wait, there’s more! The onolicious factor does not end with their poke bowls & creations, as they have a few plate lunch menu items that will make it hard to choose from! Have you ever had an Ahi Loko Moko or a Seared Ahi Bibimbap, or Ahi Katsu! Oh, and they have a Hawaiian Kalua Pork plate lunch if you’re sick of all the yummy poke dishes!
Open Daily from 10 AM to 8
PM, Except closes 7 PM on Sunday
870 Kapahulu Ave, Phone (808) 425-4954
I’d have to agree with Travel
Channel’s foodie Guy Fieri that said
“I could eat bucketfuls of this stuff”.
You can’t beat the
freshness and verities of poke that Fresh Catch serves up on
Oahu. They have 3 locations, including one close to
Waikiki! I’d advise vising all 3 spots if you have time…but
that’s just because I love the stuff!
You will be amazed and maybe even a bit stressed trying to choose from their 30 different styles of poke! And if that’s not enough…Fresh Catch has some tempting plate lunches, creative sandwiches, weekly chef specials, slow smoked meats, and sashimi platters to choose from!
takes pride in selecting his fish from the market, and preparing his
poke daily with some perfected local style sauces to give each creation
its uniqueness. Local favorites
include Ahi & Ahu Poke,
Smoked Tako, Kimchee Topshell, and Fireball Ahi Poke!
chef specials and daily sandwiches are worth the indulge!
Tempting items on the menu such as Crab
Stuffed Ahi Roll, Smoked Meat
Fried Rice, and Seared Ahi w/ Aoli, will make it hard to decide
order! I recommend showing up hungry!
Still have room for
dessert? Red Velvet Cupcakes are baked daily by the owner’s
Open Daily 10 AM to 7:30 PM, except closes 5 PM on Sunday
3109 Waialae Ave, Phone (808) 735-7653
Back in the day, you did not go to the local Honolulu
to find poke or fresh fish for that matter. Those days are long
gone since a local grocer named Foodland stepped up to the plate and
started making some of tastiest poke on the island.
after, other grocery stores saw the demand for this island treat, and
jumped onboard. Wholefoods, a high end chain grocery store,
joined the Hawaiian Island chain in 2008 and launched their Kailua
location in 2012.
They feature some unique local
a cool shave ice stand, and a delicious grass-fed Maui Cattle Co.
hamburger that is worth the indulge! But it’s hard to pass
long colorful display of fresh poke!
They claim to make their poke free of carbon dioxide…wait what! Okay, what I will tell you is that they have the freshest looking self-serve Hawaiian poke bar on the island! And looks are usually a telling sign of what’s to come…great tasting poke!
Whole Foods features many of the popular
classic creations, along with a few others that will tempt your
pallet. Try their Scallop Poke, Sweet Chili Shrimp Poke, and the
Natural Seaweed Salad if available!
Open Daily 7 AM to 10 PM
629 Kailua Rd., Kailua, Phone (808)
So long as Hawaii has a sustainable source of yellowfin ahi tuna
surrounding the Hawaiian chain located in our deep Pacific waters, we
will see both new and older restaurants & poke establishments
rising to new heights, creating both simple and amazing recipes of this
While some establishments are more popular than others, it comes down to preference of taste and the overall experience that keeps the debate going. And so let the journey begin…have fun tasting you way to find the best Hawaiian Poke out there!