Over the past several months, there has been a poke (pronounced poh-kay) craze sweeping across the country. Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish, typically made with ahi (not “ahi tuna”, friends – that just means “tuna tuna”), soy sauce (locals call it “shoyu”), seaweed, and other seasonings. So odds are, if you haven’t had poke in Hawaii, you’ve had some weird version of poke with avocado or hot Cheeto crumbs (yes, I’ve seen poke with both of these). To help you out in your search for some authentic poke, here are four places to get the best poke on Oahu, Hawaii.
Paina Café is definitely one of my favorite places on Oahu to get poke, especially at one of their Ala Moana locations. Unlike many other places on this list, Paina Café is semi-customizable with their poke bowls. While the poke itself is already marinated, you can choose to add custom toppings to your bowl. They have a ton of options, including natto (fermented beans), kim chee, and furikake (a Japanese dried seaweed mixture). I am very much a fan of the tempura flakes as a topping for a little crunch.
Tanioka’s is a local favorite for poke. Including the typical ahi-based poke bowls, they also have tako (octopus) poke, clam poke, and even tofu poke. Be sure to check their hours before you head over, because they usually do close quite early.
Ono Poke is a poke place known for its secret marinade, and all of their poke options are made with some variation of this marinade. Just make note that this is a take-out place, so perhaps take it to a nearby beach. Not Waikiki beach though – I’ve made it pretty clear that this is a tourist trap that I am not a fan of. Do a little exploring and find a different one :).
Quite a few people would argue with me for putting Foodland on this list, but Foodland poke is all about convenience, while still having authentic poke. While every other recommendation on this list has three locations or less, Foodland has locations across the Hawaiian Islands – and they still serve some quality bowls for a reasonable price.
Because Foodland is actually a grocery store, the process doesn’t work in quite the way that you would expect. Usually, they’ll have a poke section in the back of the store, where you’ll pick the size of your bowl. There, you’ll get your poke bowl, but you’ll go to the register at the front of the store to pay.
Any other places that deserve to be on this list of the best poke on Oahu? Write about them in the comments!
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