Poke 101

Eat like a Hawaiian and order up poke for your next happy-hour snack.

Peru has ceviche. Japan has sashimi. Hawaii has poke (POH-keh). This favorite dish is often enjoyed at pau hana (after-work) gatherings. Happy hour in Hawaii isn’t only about the beer.


What is it? Poke means “to cut into pieces” in Hawaiian. Think cubes of raw fish marinated in different sauces and seasonings.

What kind should you get? Ahi (tuna) is the fish of choice for many poke enthusiasts. Shoyu ahi and spicy ahi are the most popular options. The first is a mixture of soy sauce with sesame seeds and chopped green onions; the latter is a blissful combination of mayonnaise, wasabi oil, and fish roe.


How do you eat it? 
Enjoy poke à la carte, or in a bowl. The latter involves a hearty servingof poke over white rice, topped with veggie garnishes. Either way, pokeis best eaten with a set of chopsticks and your favorite beer in hand.

Where should you go? Tamura’s in Kaimuki is the place to go for a large selection. The ten-minute drive from Waikiki is worth it, because its fish is fresh, not previously frozen. Adventurous palates should try the king crab poke with wasabi and masago (fish roe).

Pa’ina Cafe
in Kakaʻako dishes out the classics, and then some. On the menu, you might find shoyu ginger salmon, or sweet-chili tofu poke. Top off your bowl with tempura bits for crunch or furikake flakes for a boost of sweetness.

All ahi poke is mixed to order at Ono’s Seafood, with your choice of onions (green or white), Hawaiian salt, chili pepper, kukui nut, sesame oil, ogo (seaweed), and shoyu.