After leaving my island home of Oahu for college on the East Coast, I was faced with an overwhelming amount of changes. Frankly speaking, the two environments couldn’t be more different. Traveling from a tropical setting filled with sun, sand, and surf to one filled with snow and sleet, from a laid-back, carefree pace to one filled only with New York minutes, I most definitely wasn’t the fastest to adjust to my new home. However, small things such as meeting up with my best friends in New York City for Thanksgiving, dancing the hula alongside my fellow Hawaii Club members in the annual Lua’u have really made and continue to make all the difference; for all these things I am extremely grateful.
Reminders of home are everywhere. And now, Poi Dog Philly, Philadelphia’s newest Hawaiian snack shop, has brought another small piece of my home to the East Coast, serving up a number of any Hawaii kid’s favorite dishes and bringing some much-needed island flavor to the City of Brotherly Love.
What Makes a Typical Hawaiian Meal?
At Poi Dog, owners Chris Vacca and Kiki Arnita put a few fun, modern spins on some classic Hawaiian foods. The common theme of a majority of the dishes on the menu is the concept of a plate lunch, a quintessential Hawaiian meal typically eaten for lunch or dinner. A plate lunch usually consists of some type of protein, flanked by two scoops of rice and a mayonnaise-based macaroni salad. Back home, a plate lunch is a go-to if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck. Cheap, fast, and delicious, it's the perfect cure for any food-related cravings.
If you’re hungry (who isn’t) and looking to try something new, whether it be a plate lunch, poke bowl, or another Hawaiian favorite, Poi Dog will not disappoint.
Poke Bowl: Spicy Ahi
If you don’t know what a poke bowl is by now, you need to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under ASAP. A classic Hawaiian meal or snack, this dish (raw, marinated cubed fish served over rice) is definitely worth a try. You'll thank me later.
Plate Lunch: Kalua Pig & Mochi Nori Fried Chicken
This will probably be one of the most satisfying meals you’ll ever eat (and trust me, you’ll finish it all). As mentioned earlier, plate lunches typically consist of one main protein served with rice. At Poi Dog, you can choose from Kalua Pig, Mochi Nori Fried Chicken, or Pork Belly Adobo. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can get two.
A strange name for a rather strange (yet delicious) dish, a loco moco is definitely up there as one of Hawaii’s ultimate comfort foods. In a nutshell, a loco moco is a hamburger patty topped with a fried egg, served over a pile of rice and topped by a mountain of gravy. A Loco moco is another meal that will probably require a healthy appetite, but trust me, you will have zero post-meal regrets.
This is just a taste of some of the many delicious and unique dishes offered at this new storefront. Whether you’re an East Coast kid who is totally unfamiliar with Hawaiian food, or a Hawaii kid in search of some comfort food from home, Poi Dog Philly is definitely a must-try.