This is part 2 of my 4-installment Oahu food crawl:
1 – An amazing breakfast at Leonard’s Hawaii
2 – Following in the Footsteps of Fieri
3 – Best dessert ever at The Dole Plantation (and an unscheduled fruit stand)
4 – It’s all worth is at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
What we tried: A lot of stuff
What I liked best: Furikake Salmon Pokē, Kahlua Pork Wontons
Stop two was a place I’d been jonesing to try every since I watched Guy Fieri (a hero of mine) hit it on his Hawaii episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Chef Elmer Guzman operates a small but efficient kitchen that delivers the freshest, tastiest and most delectable Hawaiian Seafood dishes. Poke Stop offers a very nice selection of Poke, Sashimi/Sushi platters, hot dishes and Bentos to go.
Note: Poke (poke-a) is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Pokē is the Hawaiian verb for “to slice or cut”. Native Hawaiians have always eaten poke, and it should not be confused with raw fish dishes such as ceviche, ika ota, or kinilaw, which use vinegar or citrus juice to “cure” the fish.
Walking into this tiny strip-mall eatery, and up to their cold case, we found an assortment of seafood and poke, all screaming, “Taste me! Taste me!” Luckily, the very friendly staff was happy to oblige, encouraging us to try samples of any and all.
Many toothpicks later, the four of us found ourselves at a small table, which groaned under the weight of Ahi Lime Pokē, Shoyu Ahi Pokē, Furikake Salmon Pokē, Tempura Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich, Eggplant Fries with Remoulade Sauce, and Kaluha Pork Wontons.
There, beneath the benevolent gaze of Uncle Guy, we dug in.
Both the Furikake Salmon Pokē and the Kahlua Pork Wontons knocked my socks off (or would have, if I’d been wearing socks.)
Now, I’m from Oregon AND I’m a fisherman…I know good salmon, and this was the stuff! Fresh and firm, it played nicely against the crunch of the raw onions. The combination of the furikake seasoning and the shoyu sauce gave a perfect contrast of sweet, salty, and savory…my favorite combination. Add in just enough red pepper flakes to command your respect without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the salmon, and…well, it’s worth a plane ticket to Oahu to get some!
My only addition to this dish: it’s VERY rich, and I would have liked to have seen it served over a “balancing” ingredient. I don’t know if cold rice would have worked (I’ll have to try it) but I think a small bed of shredded daikon radish would have been perfect.
Btw…Guy Fieri, host of the popular Food Network Show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, stopped at the Poke Stop’s in Mililani to check out the restaurant’s delicious menu. Among the dishes tried, was Chef Elmer’s popular, salmon poke, here’s Guy, learning how to make it:
Okay, in case you didn’t follow that recipe, don’t bother watching the clip dozen times (like I did). Thanks to the magic of The Google, here it is:
Recipe courtesy Elmer Gonzalez, owner Poke Stop in Mililani, Hawaii.
1 pound cubed sushi grade salmon
1/4 cup diced yellow onions
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt
1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes
4 tablespoons furikake rice seasoning
2 ounces shoyu sauce
4 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Kahlua Pork Wontons were just crazy, in the best possible way. Exactly what they sound like: a dollop of that salty, smoky pulled-pork that the Islands do so well, folded in a wonton wrapper, deep-fried, and sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with a little shoyu sauce. The hot, salty crunch of the wonton gives way to the soft, savory shredded pork, a touch of sweet tang from the shoyu, and…um…(blink)…sorry…what…what was I talking about?
Seriously, this is one of those simple, awesome bites of food, a tapas dream-dish, that leaves you thinking, “Why the heck haven’t I thought of this???” Again, lots of pork shoulder goes to its final reward in my kitchen, and I am totally and un-apologetically going to steal this recipe.
Both the Shores, and Vic & I, also tried the Tempura Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich, which wasn’t my favorite. I felt the (very mild) flavor of the was completely overwhelmed by the tempura flavor…or maybe my taste buds were still in shock and awe from the Pokē. The Shoyu Ahi was good too, but came is a distant second for my salmon-lovin’ palate.
In fact, all of the Ahi Pokē was great, but again…it wasn’t salmon.
Vic, trooper that she is, gave the Pokē a try…and liked it! I’m not going to lie to you, it’s never gonna replace Death by Chocolate Cake (or even a bag of malasadas) in her book, but she liked it.
So, after snapping a few pics and having a nice (and informative) conversation with some local foodies who somehow figured out from our pallor, guide books, and ever-snapping cameras, that we might be tourists…we rose and headed, groaning, for the car. Michelle asked, in what was to become the joke of the day, “Is anyone hungry?” and passed around the Eggplant Fries she had ordered.
They were really good, and probably would have rated “amazing” if I hadn’t already been hosting a very large school of fish in my belly.
Oh, and when you stop by the Pokē Stop, make sure to let them know where you’re from. There’s a big map on the wall next to the register, and they put a pin in it for each guest that mentions their home town. Tualatin and Wilsonville are now properly represented, thank you very much!
Breakfast…done. Second breakfast…done. Couldn’t possibly eat another wafer-thin bite…
Who’s up for something sweet?
Next stop: Best dessert ever at The Dole Plantation (and an unscheduled fruit stand stop)