Fresh ahi, mediocre flavor


Brittain Komoda

Two House Favorite Poke Bowls. Left: Korean style ahi poke with brown rice and a side of kim chee cucumber. Right: Spicy ahi, white rice and a side of quinoa salad.

By Brittain Komoda, Staff Writer

With over a four-star rating on Yelp and categorized as “Hot and New,” Da Hawaiian Poke Company seemed like a must-try poke spot, but with one bite, my high expectations quickly faded and I was left finishing a bowl of flavorless poke.

The ahi was great and tasted fresh, but the lack of flavor on the fish did not leave a lasting first-expression. With such high hopes and expectations, my tastebuds were left disappointed.

The poke shop can be seen from Kapahulu Avenue and distinguished with the big fish placed on the exterior of the fairly new building. It shares parking with Safeway, Panda Express and the other businesses in the small shopping complex, making it difficult to score a parking stall during rush hours.

Upon entering through the door closest to the street, three large screens are hanging from the ceiling and a big glass refrigerated case is seen. The shop allows minimal space for customers to get by one another, so a single file line is formed in a L-shape around the counter.

The menu is found on two of the large screens above the counter with specified prices listed. Da Hawaiian Poke Company is known for its customizable poke but it also offers “House Specialty” flavored poke. If customers choose to customize their own poke, they get a choice of local caught ahi, fresh Atlantic salmon, Aloha tofu, shrimp, madako tako or a combination of two. They can then choose from the five sauces available and more than 20 toppings.

There are five bowls that can be chosen from: the Aloha Bowl, which is where customers can create their own poke; House Favorite Bowl, which customers can choose any of the House Specialty poke; Aloha Tofu Poke Bowl, a concoction of Tofu poke, avocado and daikon sprouts; Maine Lobster California Bowl, made with Maine Lobster poke and topped with wasabi foam, Yuzu tobiko, avocado, Japanese cucumber and daikon sprouts; and HPC Shaka Bowl, made with spicy ahi poke, Maine Lobster, wasabi foam, Yuzu tobiko, furikake wasabi salmon poke, ikura, uni, daikon sprouts and crispy salmon skin all topped with a Kabayaki sauce.

The Aloha, House Favorite, and Aloha Tofu Poke Bowls come in two sizes, regular or large. A regular bowl comes with 6 ounces of poke, while the large comes with 9 ounces and range in price from $7-$14. The Maine Lobster California Bowl comes in at $18 and the HPC Shaka Bowl at $22, both in only one size. Each bowl comes with the choice of white, brown or sushi rice or Waipoli Farms Greens for an additional $1.50.

Although most of the Yelp reviews suggested creating your own poke, I chose the House Favorite Bowl with brown rice, Korean-style ahi poke and a side of kim chee cucumber. I also ordered a second House Favorite Bowl with white rice, spicy ahi poke and a side of quinoa salad. While the ahi was fresh, the flavor was mediocre compared to its competitors farther down the street, Ono Seafood.

My favorite parts of the two bowls were the sides. The kim chee cucumber was flavorful and juicy, and the quinoa salad offered a different flavor that blended well with the spicy ahi.

While I’ll stick to Ono Seafood for my poke bowls, I’ll be sure to return to Da Hawaiian Poke Company to try its two plate lunches, the HPC Hawaiian Luau Plate and the Ahi Loco Moco.