Let’s talk about something of the utmost importance to the youth in this generation…

Spring Break. Yes. Spring break, the shortest break out of the academic year, but the one with the most built-up excitement because of all the possibilities you can accomplish in a week. When you hear “Spring Break” you think of beach house parties, tropical getaways, chilling with your friends by the pools and beaches, and sipping on some mimosas with our sunnies on. Here in Hawaii, for those of us that are stuck at home, it means road-tripping (to the other side of the island LOL), staycations, and poke. Lots and lots of poke.

Hawaiian Lesson 101: Poke (“Poh-keh”) simply means to “cut into chunks” in Hawaiian, and it’s literally just that. Raw fish cut into cubes, mixed with toppings like maui onions, ogo, green onions, and chili pepper, tossed in a simple sauce. Poke bowls have been blowing up in the past few years in places other than Hawaii, because they’re “Instagrammable and Healthy” and to an extent, they are photogenic and extremely healthy, but just FYI, our poke bowls do NOT look like this lol

Okay, now that I got our annual history lesson out of the way, let me introduce to you my favorite poke spots on the island

Poke & Box – Noncomformer

It’s 2020, we make our own rules, we write our own stories, and we make our own poke. This spot is for all the poke lovers that don’t want just the typical Shoyu Ahi. Poke & Box is like the Subway of the Poke world. You get to choose everything you want to customize it to exactly how you love it. This means that every visit you can create your own special Poke Box, because who wants to be like everyone else? It’s conveniently located in Ala Moana, meaning you won’t have trouble finding parking, you can do some post-lunch shopping, and you can grab a sweet treat from literally anywhere in the mall.

My favorite – The Salmon with Creamy Sesame Sauce. Huge chunks of salmon in a creamy, nutty sesame sauce. You won’t find this combo anywhere else

Corina Quach

Poke for the People Express – The “Boutique” Shop of Poke

If you’re visiting Oahu and (God, forbid) only have enough time to visit one poke place, it’s gotta be this bad boy. This hole-in-the-wall is just as easy to miss as that small piece of spinach you’ve had stuck in your teeth since breakfast, because it’s close to a busy off-ramp with no big landmarks nearby. Another reason it’s easy to miss? Since they opened exactly one year ago, in March 2019, Google Maps hasn’t even identified it as a business yet! Luckily, the Yelp app helped me search and find what is now my favorite poke shop.

Corina Quach

They have your classic Spicy Tuna and Shoyu Ahi, and they offer Daily Specials like Spicy Miso Ahi, Wasabi Masago Ahi, and my all-time favorite, the Hamachi Shiro Shoyu. These people are serious about their fish. I’m talking sashimi-grade fish, air flown and delivered every morning. It’s mind-blowingly fresh and cleaned so well I thought I was eating sashimi at a luxury hotel in Tokyo.

#SpoonTip: 11:30am - 1:30pm is always SUPER busy, so try to go at off hours!

Corina Quach

Maguro Spot – Not-So-Touristy in a Touristy Area

Sick of all the tourist traps and sight-seeing gimmicks that are swarming Waikiki? Me too. That’s why I take a short walk to the not-so populated area of the neighborhood and get me a comfy, quality bowl of poke at Maguro Spot. Don’t let the bolded Japanese menus plastered outside fool you - most of the customers are locals, not tourists, and that’s how you know you’ve hit a good spot.

These poke bowls are on the pricier side, which makes sense when rent is like 9,000x more expensive in Waikiki than anywhere else on the island, but their selection and quality make up for the high prices. The Salmon & Ikura Bowl is my favorite #treatyoself meal, but honestly, any of the poke bowls here will satisfy your cravings. 

Corina Quach

Cooke Street Market - #iAmHealth

You know that feeling when you eat a salad and you feel reborn, like you’re the healthiest person alive? That’s me whenever I’m at Cooke Street Market. Maybe it’s because they’re located in the hipster, health-conscious neighborhood of Kaka’ako, or maybe it’s because they load their poke bowls and plate lunches with veggies, but I swear I eat so healthy when I’m here. 

They have milk tea, smoothies, and ice cream sandwiches if you’re not feeling as ~healthy~ as I am, but whatever you get from their extensive menu, I’m sure you’ll love it.

I have honestly never been disappointed by anything here. If you need recommendations, may I suggest the Garlic Lover’s Spicy Mayo? It’s the best spicy ahi I’ve had in my life, and that’s coming from a mayo hater. I’m talking I won’t even go NEAR a jar of mayo kine hatred, but somehow this place has won my mayo-hating heart, with none other than their mayo dish! That’s how you know this place is a winner.

Corina Quach

Fresh, soft, melt-in-your-mouth poke with a cold cup of milk tea, finished off with an ice cream sandwich, all while playing Battleship (yes, they have Battleship!!) on a couch with your best friends. That’s the dream. That’s what you can get at Cooke Street Market. 

Corina Quach

You can get poke anywhere in Hawaii - food trucks, supermarkets, food courts, stand-alone-shops, heck, I can even go to one of my neighbors' houses and they'll probably be making some fresh poke too! But if you're only here for a few days and wanna try the best, please do yourself a favor and check any of these places out!

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