Five Ono (Delicious) Local Hawaii Restaurants to Enjoy on Oahu

The Hawaiian word for delicious is ‘Ono’. There are no shortage of ono restaurants in Hawaii and most of them are located in Honolulu or on the island of Oahu. The following are five places where you can get an ono meal that you will tell your friends about for as long as you are still able to talk and remember eating there…

WaikaneWaioli Poi Factory – Midway up the windward side of Oahu you will find a tinroofed shack with delicious Hawaiian food for reasonable prices. The crowds have been growing at this local favorite – so I’m not going to post the address or hours – you’ll just have to find it on your own. Make sure you order the poi, the kalua pork, and the haupia!

 

 

 

 

FHawaiian Pokeoodland Poke Bowls – Yes, there are lots and lots and lots of places to get fresh poke in Hawaii. We have hidden gems we won’t tell you about – but the thing that surprises a lot of people is that the best poke isn’t found at fancy restaurants – it’s found in local grocery stores, liquor stores, and side of the road markets where people go for lunch. Grab a spicy ahi poke bowl from any foodland seafood counter. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably go home and tell everyone it was the best poke you ever had!

 

 

 

 

Mike's Huli Huli ChickenMike’s Huli Chicken I haven’t been to Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken since they left their Kahalu’u location a few months ago and moved to Kuhuku with all the other food trucks – but I’m sure that the food is just as good as it always was. Maybe it’s even better.

 

 

 

 

Shrimp Trucks Oahu

Fumi’s Kuhuku Shrimp There is a reason why Fumi’s is my favorite of all the Hawaiian Shrimp Trucks on Oahu – it’s because they cook it right, raise it right, and keep their sanitation on the obsessive compulsive side in their kitchen. They pull the shrimp from their family owned ponds and serve them with aloha (and lots of garlic).

 

 

 

 

Nico's Pier 38Nico’s Pier 38  I’m jaded about Nico’s – because it used to be so much better than it is today. The truth is though , Nico’s Pier 38 is still one of those places that you have to go and you will remember forever as long as you order the swordfish or the furikake crusted ahi.

What is Hawaiian Poke? Where can you get it on Oahu?

Hawaiian Poke

Visitors often ask me – What is poke? And they say it so that it rhymes with the word joke…which is wrong but sort of cute and funny. Poke is a two syllable word that rhymes with ‘oh kay’ and it is one of the most wonderful contributions Hawaii has made to world cuisine. 

Poke is usually yellowfin tuna but traditionally is made with octopus or aku which is a more oily type of tuna. The word poke means to slice – and that’s what it is – raw, sliced fish marinated with seaweed, salt, onions, and other flavorings. It can be eaten by itself or more often atop a bowl of brown or white rice – also known as the poke bowl (poh-kay bowl).

Traditional Hawaiian poke usually has salt, seaweed, kukui nuts, and not much else. Japanese influence has been heavily felt in Hawaiian cuisine so it’s more common to have soy sauce (shoyu), sesame oil, furikake (mix of seaweed, sesame seeds, and dried fish) or ponzu sauce. The most popular form of Hawaiian poke is probably the ‘spicy ahi’ which is onions, mayo, and sricha or chili oil.

Hawaiian Poke

Where to get poke depends on where you are. I love supporting my favorite poke spots – but I”m not going to ruin them by listing them on the internet, but I’m happy to provide a couple of great poke spots you can visit on Oahu.

The first is the closest supermarket in Honolulu. Times and Foodland both have great poke. Safeway doesn’t quite measure up but will work in a pinch. Go to the seafood section. Whole Foods is overpriced without tasting noticably better. The poke bar at Nico’s Pier 38 has great poke. Another superior poke stop is Tamura’s Liquor Stores – located in various locations around Oahu. Finally, there are a number of restaurants that offer pokebowls or poke as either an appetizer or a meal – in general, these are overpriced versions of what you get above but in a few cases – you will get superior sashimi grade poke that will knock your socks off. I prefer to stick with the markets for my poke – but if the only chance you get is to go to a restaurant – then I recommend Poke Bowls on Beach Walk in Waikiki. They’re poke is all locally sourced fish and they also try to use other local ingredients.

Hawaiian Poke

There are spectacular places to get poke on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai – but you’re going to have to make friends with the locals to find out about them! 🙂

As far as getting great poke on the mainland – it’s very possible but here is what you want to do – get as close to the fresh fish as you can. Sure, you can get pretty good previously frozen poke in the Ozarks (I think) but it’s not going to taste as good as sashimi grade fresh ahi. There are a lot of poke bars popping up in various cities – I’ve heard some good things and some things that make me cringe in terms of how it’s prepared, what condiments are added, and more – ultimately – it’s your choice but remember – it should be raw and the additions shouldn’t overwhelm the flavor of the fish.

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