Poke Still a Willows’ Standard

Columns Ethnic Faves

February 13, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Can you imagine sitting down for a traditional Hawaiian-style meal with the usual suspects in front of you — kalua pig, lau lau, lomi lomi salmon and poi — and then discovering the ahi poke was noticeably absent from your plate? Well, neither could The Willows general manager Garrett Kamei.

  • Different entries are offered daily at The Willows. "We want to make guests feel like we're making each plate individually," says Chef Jay Matsukawa.
  • Poke is included on The Willows' buffet menu.
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Poke, he says, has always been and will continue to be a staple on the establishment’s buffet menu.

“I think Chef Jay Matsukawa placed it on the menu knowing that with local Hawaiian foods, it is expected to have that raw fish, and that the ahi poke would be there as well,” Kamei says.

Once eaten as an easy means of nutrition and strength by ancient Hawaiians, poke has since transformed into an essential appetizer at any local party or get-together.

Some restaurants have tweaked their preparation methods, adding ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, chilies and soy sauce — and so has The Willows. But it seems the traditional ahi poke always makes its way back to the top of the restaurant’s menu.

“Over the years, we’ve started to add other ingredients such as inamona from the roasted kukui nut,” says Matsukawa. “Everybody does different types now, whether it’s spicy ahi with mayonnaise, which we occasionally serve. But generally speaking, everyone seems to love the traditional style.”

The daily lunch buffet ($19.95) is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., while dinner ($34.95) runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday brunch ($24.95) is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., while the Sunday champagne brunch ($34.95) is from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Senior and keiki (4-10) discounts apply.

The Willows Restaurant

  • Where
    • 901 Hausten Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96826
  • Call
    • (808) 952-9200
  • Hours
    • Monday – Friday
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch)
    • 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (dinner)
    • Saturday – Sunday
    • 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch/brunch)
    • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. (dinner)

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