Poke: Gotta Eat ‘Em All!
Whether you love it or hate it, play it or don’t, Pokemon Go is the hottest topic of conversation at the moment — one that cannot be ignored, even by our team here at Dining Out. Now, I do have to confess that I’ve never actually played the mobile-device game, but I’ve heard so much about it and recently decided it was time to see what all the fuss is about.
Since I’m not much of a gamer, I figured the best way to get into Pokemon Go is to relate it to something I love — that being food, of course! And as evidence to the true foodie inside me, I can’t hear the name of the game without instantly getting a craving for a bowl of fresh poke.
Naturally, the only thing to do was to give Pokemon Go an Ono, You Know twist. My inside sources tell me the main point of the game is to catch mythical Pokemon creatures, and that there are objects in the game called lures, which help to attract them like bait. So our dining team came up with our own ultra rare creature dubbed Kittycrave. Not surprisingly, due to his cat-like nature, Kittycrave’s favorite lure is raw, seasoned and delicious tuna. It brings him to us every time! So let’s go find some good poke, because as the game says, we “gotta catch ’em all!”
BRING ON THE POKE, MAN!
In Pokemon Go, lures hang out at PokeStops, where players can go to catch different characters. Well we’re no strangers to PokeStops of our own at Dining Out, but of course ours lead us to our favorite local-style dish.
Patrons around Oahu agree there’s something special about the poke at Ahi & Vegetable, where it is served in abundance alongside bentos, sashimi, party platters and more. The secret to good poke, according to owner Sam Seo, is not so much the recipe or seasonings, but rather the quality of the ingredients.
“Freshness is really the key,” explains Seo, who goes to Honolulu Fish Auction at the crack of dawn each morning to pick out the freshest ahi to sell at his casual takeout shop. With more than 15 years of experience as an ahi wholesaler, he knows how to select the right color, texture, firmness and freshness.
And since Seo hand selects high-quality ahi, he doesn’t need to go through a supplier and therefore is able to pass on those savings to his customers. Translation? You can get remarkable fish for a remarkable price.
I found Kittycrave munching on Ahi & Vegetable’s Poke Salad ($10), which presents a health-conscious and unadulterated blend of poke on a bed of lettuce. Pokemon creatures and humans alike also adore Bento No. 7 ($12), offering a variety of fresh-fish musings, including classic poke, spicy ahi and spicy salmon, all served with rice.
That’s just scratching the surface of the yummy seafood Ahi & Vegetable has to offer. To put it in terms that gamers will understand, the eatery is the Pikachu of poke shops: rare, among the best and highly sought after.
Ahi & Vegetable Kapalama Shopping Center
1210 Dillingham Blvd., Kalihi
RESTAURANT EPIC, I CHOOSE YOU!
When you earn a lot of points playing Pokemon Go, you get to “level up” in the game — and the higher you go, the better. Restaurant Epic in Chinatown is accustomed to leveling up, as it is always raising classic menu items to new levels of flavor with the power of island-inspired twists.
Epic Ahi Poke ($12) is a perfect example of that, gracing the lunch and dinner menu with a new approach to poke seasonings. Sure, we’ll always love the most common type of poke dressed with shoyu, sesame oil, green onions and some combo of onions, limu or inamona, but every once in a while it’s nice to try a new blend of flavors. Restaurant Epic ups its poke game with chunks of cucumber and avocado, as well as sushi-style kabeyaki sauce, a thick, sweetened shoyu. There’s also the crunch factor from fresh sweet-onion slivers and salty ogo. Additionally, mixed greens on the bottom transforms this pupu into a refreshing salad.
Last, but not least, there’s no skimping on the ahi here, which is served up in generous, meaty chunks.
“That’s how poke is supposed to be,” explains general manger David Chang.
Don’t forget to stop by Epic during its popular happy hour, offered daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. And when dining from the regular menu, enjoy pastas, meaty masterpieces and more seafood entrees. We also found Kitty-crave here, so it’s safe to say we’ve succeeded in our food-filled version of Pokemon Go.
1131 Nuuanu Ave., Chinatown