Whenever I visit Hawaii, I always go poke hunting and when I arrived in Kailua-Kona it was no different. Poke? Poke is pronounced poʊˈkeɪ and is a raw Hawaiian dish created by combining sashimi (typically) ahi tuna (yellowfin), soy sauce, maui onions, sesame oil, sea salt and various other ingredients. I believe that in order to make an excellent poke, the fish must be fresh, not ever being frozen.
After a few finds of decent poke, I heard that there was one place called Da Poke Shack that was supposed to be the best in this part of Hawaii. Unfortunately I arrived there at 6:05PM and they closed at 6 o’clock. One of the diners was finishing his meal and I asked him how it was. He said it was the best because they catch the fish early in the morning and serve it that same day. I left hungry and unsatisfied, but knew I just had to come back.
The following day, I returned, with stronger cravings and even higher expectations. Unfortunately it was later in the afternoon, and some of their menu items were already sold out. But I was at least able to get my fix, the Dynamite Poke. The Dynamite Poke is one of their most popular ones; unlike a traditional poke, it contained mayonnaise. I also tried a couple of different dishes, which can be purchased à la carte by weight or as a meal with a choice of salad and steamed rice.
As they don’t offer any seating aside from a couple of patio tables outside, everything is served in take out containers. No presentation point there. I opened the biodegradable meal box and was pleasantly surprised by the presentation. The colourful poke and the vibrant fresh seaweed salad were placed neatly beside a ball of rice.
I tried the different poke dishes and must say that the Dynamite Poke was easily my favourite, don’t get me wrong but the other poke mixtures were good too. The combination of flavours and differences in textures provided an excellent eating experience, though it began to drizzle while I was eating. I must say that it is the best poke I had ever had in my poke hunting. How good? Good enough that I was back early the next morning, to sample more varieties of poke; and yet still order another dish of Dynamite Poke.
I know eating raw fish is not for everyone, but if you like to, you should give it a try!
Restaurant: Da Poke Shack
Location: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii