Where to eat the best poke in Honolulu
The only place to experience authentic poke is in its homeland – here are our top 5 poke spots in Honolulu.
- December 2017
What began as a way for Hawaiian fishermen to use up the offcuts of their catch has taken the world by storm, with variations of poke being served up at restaurants across the globe. But the only place to experience authentic poke is in its homeland – here are our top 5 poke spots in Honolulu.
First things first: what is poke?
Poke (pronounced ‘poh-keh’) is a Hawaiian word that means ‘to cut crosswise into pieces’. It’s a centuries-old dish; once simply sliced fish mixed with salt and seaweed, it has evolved as settlers from diverse cultures came to Hawaii.
Enhanced with Asian flavours such as soy sauce, sesame oil and kimchi, poke can be tuna, octopus, shrimp, salmon, or even tofu. The cubed pieces come with toppings from crispy garlic to cucumber to avocado, though algae is traditional, and sometimes you’ll be able to select your own combination. While poke is delicious to eat on its own, it’s even better when served on a bowl of hot rice.
Da Hawaiian Poke Company: fast, fresh take-away
Just outside Waikiki, Da Hawaiian Poke Company serves up a variety of poke, including freshly caught ahi (yellowfin tuna) and tofu. They have weekly lunchtime specials and you can choose white, sushi or brown rice as the base for your bowl. It’s a great place to grab takeaway, and the staff couldn’t be friendlier—they truly embody the Aloha Spirit. They’re also heavily involved in fundraising for the local community, so it’s a business well worth supporting.
Location: 870 Kapahulu Avenue
Shaka Poke-Don: where shoppers go to refuel
It may be inside a large shopping mall, but Shaka Poke is far from your usual food court offering. For hungry shoppers, it’s the perfect alternative to a fast food chain – friendly service at a reasonable price, offering up traditional Hawaiian and Japanese fare. It’s a small store, tucked away on the lower level of Waikiki Plaza, so you may need to take your order away with you. Their spicy mayo is a hit with customers, and their uncomplicated, classic dishes are an ideal place to start for the uninitiated.
Location: Lower Level, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 2250 Kalakaua Avenue
Our favourite link: Shaka Poke-Don opens in new window
Poke on Da Run: a twist on the classic dish
A little further out of Honolulu, near Pearl Harbor, you’ll find Poke on Da Run. The owner is renowned for his generosity—he even offers free samples. Though their selection may be smaller than other outlets, the selection changes constantly, each dish is big on taste and the portions are huge. Some say this is the best spicy ahi on the island. And if you don’t feel like poke, they also offer other options. Their braised beef is a local legend, and if you’re planning to try the Fireman Chicken, be warned—the name is justified!
Location: 909 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City
Our favourite link: Poke on Da Run opens in new window
Alicia’s Market: the local one-stop shop
Alicia’s Market is a supermarket, a bakery, a restaurant and a liquor store, all rolled into one. A family-run business since 1947, from the outside Alicia’s looks like an old convenience store, but don’t let that fool you: inside is a smorgasbord of delicious delights. As well as over 15 varieties of poke including treats like king crab and surf clam, they offer a range of traditional Hawaiian and Chinese dishes, snack food, and baked treats. Note that they are closed on Sundays, and parking can be tricky.
Location: 267 Mokauea St
Our favourite link: Alicia’s Market opens in new window
Fresh Ahi off the Boat: the name says it all
These super fresh poke bowl varieties include tuna, salmon and chicken, and all come with miso soup, a nod to the Japanese influence on the island. Take a seat in the cosy dining room and enjoy the generous portions, freshly prepared by the friendly staff. You can even create your own version. If you’re not sure where to start, try a few things at once by ordering the Local Bowl, which includes spicy ahi poke, kalua pork and Lomi salmon (a salmon tomato salad) served over rice (and you can even choose black rice here!).
Location: 815 Keeaumoko St, Honolulu
Our favourite link: Fresh Ahi off the Boat opens in new window