The Best Poke Bowls in Honolulu: Where to Find Them

In the industrial area of Kalihi, near a chicken farm, you'll find Poke by the Pound, a place where large, fresh pieces of fish are mixed with island flavors, such as oyster sauce with crunchy pieces of fried garlic. Hawaiian salty poke is a simple dish that comes only with fresh fish, white onion, green onion, and coarse-grained Hawaiian salt. The six or more offerings at any given time are pre-mixed in small batches and available by the pound (of course), or placed with a spoon over sushi rice with vinegar to make a poke bowl. If you're looking for the best poke bowl Honolulu has to offer, then you should head to the Tamashiro Market.

Here you'll find a variety of flavors and styles, from the classic ahi shoyu to the newer version mixed with homemade chili paste and capelin eggs. Locals and visitors alike rave about the unbeatable poke from this locally-owned grocery retailer. Foodland's corporate chef, Keoni Chang, says that the team develops different recipes according to trends. And each Foodland has its own special creations, as fish and seafood managers often invent new combinations that they think their customers will like.

Venture into Tamura's Wine Store and make your way to the poker counter. Here you'll find a line of customers craving the simply seasoned cubed fish dish in a variety of flavors and styles. From spicy kajiki to limu poke, there's something for everyone. And while you're there, grab a bottle (or two) of wine from the state's largest selection.

Paina Cafe serves some of the best poke on the island. With 30 different types of poke bowls, from Spicy Ahi Poke to Ahi Limu Poke, you'll be sure to find something you love. Tamashiro Market is an iconic spot in Honolulu; the 3-story pink towers dominate the old Kalihi neighborhood. Next to Nico's Pier 38 restaurant, the fish market is a must-visit if you're looking for delicious poke.

Located in Waianae, Aloha Poke not only offers poke bowls but also other delicious Hawaiian dishes, making it an excellent stop for those families who don't all eat raw poke there. Ginger scallion poke has gained popularity in Hawaii in recent years; fresh fish is present in the most minimalist preparations, such as limu poke and another with 'opihi (very salty Hawaiian macaws that are extracted from rocks in troubled waters). With four locations on Oahu, this small family franchise is where visitors and locals alike come to enjoy freshly prepared poke and wine, hand in hand. Another great spot in downtown Honolulu is Aloha Cones; here you'll find some of the best poker in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Venture into this wine store and head back for some delicious poke bowls. One of Honolulu's oldest destinations is located in the back of Tamashiro Market, a Kalihi grocery store and seafood market that dates back to the 1940s and offers one of the widest varieties of seafood in the city. During the day, he and his brother run a seafood counter located in the Maunakea market in Honolulu's Chinatown; at night they run an equally small store in Waikīkī where they serve impeccably seasoned poke along with fresh sashimi. The best snack destinations in Honolulu give priority to fresh fish (over tuna frozen or treated with carbon monoxide to preserve color). Some of the best restaurants on Oahu can be found at several local grocery stores scattered throughout the island; Alicia's Market is one of them.

Martha Cheng is the food editor of Honolulu magazine, author of The Poke Cookbook, and writer of national publications. This beloved downtown O'ahu institution dates back to 1978; it's a mix of okazuya (old-school Japanese-style charcuterie) and poke counter resulting in pairings like spicy poke bowl from there and shrimp in tempura.

Darrel Arpino
Darrel Arpino

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