Have poke your way at Ala Moana shop

A La Carte Columns

July 23, 2017

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: POKE & BOX

An assembly line of customers at Poke & Box in Ala Moana Center CAROLINE WRIGHT PHOTO

It’s half past eight on a sultry Friday night, and Poke & Box, the little “make-your-own” eatery in Ala Moana’s Makai Market Food Court, is filled with a diverse group of hungry patrons.

A customer in a T-shirt that proclaims him “The World’s Okayest Bartender,” a girl with a buzz cut and an electric guitar slung over her shoulder, and a weary mom and her kids queue up to watch the servers create customized boxes of poke heaven.

Small PokeBox ($7.99) with ahi, tempura flakes, avocado, jalapeno and tobiko

“Oh, it smells so good in here!” exclaims one of the kids appreciatively, and the weary mother smiles.

“If you want really fresh poke, this is a great place to go — just look at the line,” another customer says.

Behind a tall plexiglass window, which keeps everything nice and hygienic, a quartet of servers cheerfully hustles to keep up with the crowd, answering questions in English, Korean, Tagalog, Ilocano, Cantonese, Japanese and Mandarin.

Medium PokeBox ($9.99) with ahi, green onion, cucumber and radish sprouts

As customers make their selections, the equally eclectic team of servers expertly toss ingredients in stainless-steel bowls with gloved hands.

A curious tourist asks about PokeBoxSauce™ — the trademarked name for the flavorful secret in every PokeBox. These house-made condiments include savory Korean gochujang, wasabi mustard — which is perfectly hot but not overwhelming — a mellow creamy sesame, the ever-popular Aja Spicy Shoyu and more.

Small ($7.99), medium ($9.99) and large ($14.99) PokeBoxes begin with a base of either rice or salad. Protein options, or PokeBoxMix™, include fresh ahi from this morning’s auction, shrimp, seasoned scallops, tako (octopus) and fresh salmon — plus grilled chicken and fried tofu for those who don’t like seafood.

PokeBoxTops™ include pickled ginger, kimchee, pine nuts, taro chips, edamame, furikake, jalapenos, and pineapple chunks.

“It’s clean, fast, fun and delicious,” says a guest. “My only complaint is that there should be a Poke & Box on every corner!”

Poke & Box

Ala Moana Center
Makai Market Food Court
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Ste. 1081, Honolulu
394-7633
Daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; closes at 7 p.m. on Sunday
pokeandbox.com

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