Support Local: Our Favorite Poke Spots on O‘ahu
Written by Kailanianna Ablog | Cover Photo Courtesy of Camille Heung (Poke from Redfish Poke Bar)
Everyone has their own favorite poke spots on O‘ahu, and for this month’s Support Local blog we’re sharing some of ours! It’s likely that you will not agree with our list because there are plenty more spots on the island that are a must try, so please share with us YOUR go-tos on social media.
Poke is one of those local dishes that is always best in Hawai‘i! If you've moved away, it's probably one of the first things you pick up to eat when you fly home. If you're visiting O‘ahu for the first time, it's a must-have during your stay (and we would recommend that you "must-have '' multiple times during your stay).
Poke is such a versatile dish that you can eat it as a snack, appetizer, lunch or dinner. There are so many choices available that we could never try them all, but we all start somewhere! Here’s our favorite poke spots on O‘ahu!
The History of Poke
Take a look at Camille's Homemade Poke!
From poke bowls, poke tacos and nachos, and just straight up poke, poke has found its way into the hearts and stomachs of many around the world! Poke’s origins can be traced back to ancient Hawaiians who would eat freshly caught fish with sea salt, seaweed, inamona (roasted kukui, or candlenut tree nuts with paʻakai, or Hawaiian salt) or kukui nuts according to Mari Taketa of Hawaiian Airlines. The word “poke” means “to slice, cut crosswise into pieces.”
The best poke is made with fresh fish such as ahi (tuna) cut into cubes, or he‘e (octopus), and often paired with soy sauce, limu (seaweed), sea salt and green onions. Other variations of the recipe include ingredients such as sriracha mayo, ponzu sauce, sesame seeds or tempura flakes. Poke can also be made with previously frozen fish, but fresh is definitely better!
You like one sample? Off The Hook's Sampler Set has you covered (see above)!
Photo Courtesy of Camille Heung.
Located in Mānoa Valley, Off The Hook Poke Market is an award-winning poke spot that specializes and sells ONLY poke made from fish fresh everyday from the Honolulu Fish Auction.
They offer a variety of original flavors such as Cold Ginger Ahi Poke and Miso Ginger Tako and a sample set for those who’d like to try a bit of everything.
Some menu favorites include Cold Ginger Ahi and Furikake Wasabi (for those who love a little bit of spice in their food). Off The Hook Poke Market is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed on Sundays.
Established in 1947 by Alicia and Raymond Kam, this family-run market in the Kalihi-Palama area is a general store that offers poke and other foods, including Chinese roast meats.
With over 30 varieties of seafood and salads, including Wasabi Masago Ahi and Ponzu Salmon by the pound, there is something for everyone at this poke spot on O‘ahu! For meat lovers, they also offer Meat and Poke Bowls, selling protein such as Char Siu Ribs, Roast Pork and Turkey Tails with your choice of poke. Now operated by Leonard Kam and his sons Chris and Brad, Alicia’s Market is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 2:00pm. They are closed on Sundays.
Tanioka’s Seafood and Catering
This poke spot on O‘ahu is a definite local favorite! Located in Waipahu, Tanioka’s Seafood and Catering was opened in 1978 by Mel and Lynn Tanioka. In tandem with their motto “Quality Foods with a Friendly Smile,” Tanioka’s is known for their use of fresh, locally-sourced ahi and aku, extensive pupu (appetizer) and catering menus.
Some of their poke offerings include Hot Shoyu, Lomi Ahi, Crunchy Garlic, and Taegu Ahi. They also have other poke variations such as Spicy Marlin, Furikake Salmon and Wasabi Miso Tako and plate lunches such as their Bacon Wrapped Lau Lau Plate, Curry Tots, and Kalua Pig Plate. Tanioka’s Seafood and Catering is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Maguro Bros also sells chirashi (shown above). Photo courtesy of Camille Heung.
Popular among both locals and tourists, Maguro Brothers is owned by brothers Jun and Roy who have extensive experience working in Tsukiji Fish Market, the most popular fish market in Japan.
Located in Chinatown’s Maunakea Marketplace, Maguro Brothers sells a plethora of poke bowls such as Shoyu Onion Ahi and Spicy Mayo Ahi. They also sell sushi bowls like Maguro Donburi and grilled plates including Grilled Himachi Kama and Togorashi Ahi Steak. The next time you’re in Chinatown, be sure to stop by this poke spot on O‘ahu Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are closed on Sundays.
You can never go wrong with some Kahiau Poke on rice! Photo Courtesy of Camille Heung.
Meaning “selfless generosity,” Kahiau Poke and Provisions is a family-run business in Chinatown. Finding their beginnings at a local farmer’s market with only three products, Kahiau Poke and Provisions creates a variety of poke dishes with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients.
If you’re craving Taegu Poke, Shoyu Poke, or the Kahiau Special (alongside other scrumptious goodies such as jerky, fresh poi and Limu Kohu Chili Pepper Water), Kahiau Poke and Provisions has your back. Stop by their location Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are closed from Sunday to Tuesday.
Photo Courtesy of Camille Heung.
Located at SALT at OUR KAKA'AKO, Redfish Poke Bar is owned by Foodland and offers its patrons a modern take on poke. Offering custom poke bowls and other satisfying bites like avocado toast, garlic ribeye, lomi lomi salmon and malasada bites, Redfish Poke Bar has something for everyone to enjoy (especially the poke)! Eat in at their dine in restaurant in the back or order a bowl to go with their poke bar in the front.
Redfish Poke Bar is open daily. Their hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
More Ono Poke Spots on O‘ahu
Here are a few more spots that are worth checking out the next time you’re on-island!
Poke from Poke Fest 2021. Photos Courtesy of Camille Heung.
If you’re in town for Poke Fest, you’re in for a treat!
Put on by Frolic Hawai‘i, Poke Fest is a celebration of poke. At this event, some of the island’s favorite poke spots compete to see who makes the most ono (delicious poke) via patron vote! Event goers are able to sample different types of poke from various participating restaurants and learn more about one of Hawai‘i’s iconic and favorite dishes.
The most recent Poke Fest took place in May 2022, and the top three winners were:
3rd Place: Hibachi Honolulu Market
2nd Place: The Dining Room at Queen’s Medical Center West O‘ahu
1st Place: Paradise Poke
Want to Make Your Own at Home?
Considering making poke at home? Consider supporting local author and editor Martha Cheng and grabbing a copy of her cookbook “The Poke Cookbook: The Freshest Way to Eat Fish.”
You can read Martha Cheng’s bio here:
“Martha Cheng is based in Honolulu. Her writing appears in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Food and Wine, Eater, Monocle, and Conde Nast Traveler. She is also the food editor for Honolulu Magazine. In past lives, she ran a grilled cheese truck, cooked in restaurants, worked as a Google techie, and tried to teach computers as a Peace Corps volunteer (but ended up answering a lot of questions about karate). She has degrees in Computer Science and English from Wellesley College. More than a decade ago, she came to Honolulu for a boy and stayed for the people and ocean. She was born in San Francisco, but really prefers surfing in Hawaii. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Whenever you’re ready to make your own bowl of poke, consider adding one (or more) of the following to tailor your poke to your unique taste (or to try something different)! This list does not cover every ingredient you could use, so we encourage you to get creative as you explore the world of poke:
- Tobiko (Flying fish roe)
- Green Onion
- Ikura (Salmon caviar)
- Sriracha Mayo
- Taegu (Seasoned codfish)
- Natto (Fermented soybeans)
- Roasted sesame seeds
- Chili oil
- Tempura flakes
- Edamame (Young soybeans)