There is an appetiser dish known as poke (pronounced ‘po-kay’) that any seafood lover visiting Hawaii has got to try before leaving. Ashamedly, I didn’t get to try it during my week long visit there.
Poke is a form of raw fish salad as ubiquitous to the Hawaiian islands as In-N-Out is to California. A typical poke mixture usually consists of marinated fresh ahi (tuna), salty seaweed and crunchy sweet onions. But come to the local fish markets here and you will find a large selection of poke flavours to cater for every taste. From smoked salmon to cooked shrimp, tako (octopus) and even seared steak.
My recommendation for you seafood lovers out there would be to go to Fresh Catch (we visited the one in Kaimuki), where they serve an impressive selection of 25 different flavours of poke. And if you’re not a big fan of raw seafood, they also serve a variety of popular lunch plates here containing various cooked meats.
Although Fresh Catch is predominantly a take-out restaurant, there are tables available if you want to sit down and eat straight away. Regrettably, I forgot to take a close-up picture of the poke bar above with all of its colours and flavours. So you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say that the entire selection looked incredibly appetising up close.
But with so many flavours to choose from and an ever growing line of customers behind me, I couldn’t decide quickly enough. Instead I chose to start off with some nice lunch plates first and get some poke later on.
Furikake Salmon $10.99
Having never tasted furikake before in my life, I am glad that my first experience of it was in the form of this meltingly delicious piece of baked salmon. The tangy glaze and salty seaweed on top gave the salmon a deliciously salty umami flavour with just the right amount of crunch. The plate was also came with two scoops of rice and more furikake on top.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, furikake is a dry seasoning that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. A combination of sesame seeds, nori and other seasonings that is meant to be sprinkled on the top of rice for added umami flavour. And I gotta say that I am 100% HOOKED.
Furikake Fries $3.25
I had originally asked for pasteles fries but the guy at the counter must have misheard me and gave me these fries instead. In his defence, the mix up was probably due to my appalling pronunciation of the word “pasteles”. Nevertheless I was quite content as I had just only recently discovered this deliciousness that is furikake. Why did it never occur to me that fries would taste so good sprinkled with some nori-sesame seasoning and dipped in mayo??
Crab Stuffed Ahi Roll $11.99
So there was one dish in particular that we went specifically on a Wednesday for: the crab stuffed ahi roll which was the special dish of the day. And you guessed it. It also came with more furikake seasoning and a side of mayo. I had high hopes for this dish but it was unfortunately a bit of a letdown.
Although the outside was deliciously crunchy, I didn’t find myself enjoying the crab filling as much as I thought I would. Maybe because it tasted a bit like imitation crab? But if I were to pick again, I would probably just stick with the salmon dish.
Although the portions didn’t look that big (not to me at least), Dirk and I ended up being pretty full. We didn’t have any more room to fit in poke and decided against take-away as it was raw fish and ideally should be consumed immediately. There wasn’t another opportunity to revisit Fresh Catch, so hopefully this post will serve as a reminder for me to seek out this delicious dish the next time that I visit Hawaii 😛
Best poke on the island. Great lunch options available too – anything with furikake is good!
3109 Waialae Ave,
Honolulu HI 96816