Hawaii food we love: Poke, duh!

Sushi is a mainland favorite. It’s aesthetically pleasing, decorated in cream cheese with cute designs. Sushi restaurants typically have a fun environment, with music and ornate detail. It’s fun. I like it!

Sushi in Hawaii is different

Sushi in hawaii is very different. Our primary raw fish is called “poke” in Hawaiian pronounced “pok-eh” not “pok-ee.” Poke is fresh ahi, marinated in a special sauce. There are several different sauces, ranging from very spicy to not spicy at all. This can affect the price of each type of poke as well, depending on the sauce. Fresh fish can also be far more expensive, regardless of the sauce.

You won’t see this kind of sushi in Hawaii that often. Pixabay image. No attribution required.

Hawaii food we love: Poke is cheaper than sushi on the mainland

Poke is not aesthetically pleasing like sushi. It’s not served on cute little plates and trays. Poke can be bought on its own, or bought in a “poke bowl” in which it’s served with ⅓ pound of fish, paired with a few scoops of rice. This goes for $7 at your nearby Foodland grocery store (a local grocery store chain.) It’s a lot of fish for a really good price. In Reno, a tray of sushi with tiny little slices of ahi is about $10. All you can eat sushi is about $24. There’s no comparison.

Poke can be served with other things like seaweed, avocado, limu and imitation crab. For example, the “california poke” is mixed with avocado, imitation crab and cucumber. Sound familiar? The marination sauce includes sesame oil, green onions, mayonnaise, along with other things. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Hawaii food we love

Poke is pretty popular in the islands.
Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke by Foodista is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

Hawaii food we love: Different types of poke

Other types of poke sauces such as the ahi limu poke includes hawaiian sea salt, soy sauce, green onions, and limu. Limu means “algae” in Hawaiian, and was initially used to add some flavor to a plain dish. When you think of algae, it’s the gross green stuff that comes to mind at first! The algae included in ahi limu poke is clean, healthy and yummy!

Poke can be served with poi. Poi is a traditional Hawaiian dish. It’s made from pounded taro. It has a pudding-like consistency. It’s the ultimate superfood for babies because it’s filled with important vitamins and nutrients. It’s often paired with poke as well. For example, I usually dip my poke in poi and eat it as so.

Hawaii food we love

There are variations of poke. Poke bowls are similar to plate lunches in that the whole meal is encompassed in one plate.
Ahi tuna Poke by Openmalware.exe is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

Hawaii food we love: Conveyor belt sushi

In addition to poke, another popular type of sushi here is conveyor belt sushi. With this, sushi is served on small circular plates, circulating throughout the entire restaurant on a conveyor belt. It’s not a traditional sushi restaurant setting. There is such a wide variety of sushi circulating on the conveyor belt that you can start eating as soon as you sit down. It’s a fun environment that’ll fill your sushi needs almost immediately! There are still menus available to order certain items that may not be in availability on the conveyor belt. However, there’s usually an ample supply on the conveyor belt.

Popular conveyor belt sushi chains are Genki Sushi, Ninja Sushi, KuruKuru Sushi and Hana Sushi. I haven’t been able to find a conveyor belt sushi-like restaurant on the mainland – but I’m always on the hunt for them! If you’ve got any suggestions for sushi restaurants on the west coast, reply in the comments below.