Da Poke Shack – Kailua-Kona, Big Island, HI

Poke (po-kee) is the Hawaiian version of ceviche. It is probably one of the best ways to enjoy raw fish for those who prefer a bit more flavor than Japanese sushi. Usually you will see it made of yellowtail tuna, but various other forms can exist such as octopus, shrimp, scallop, etc.

The key to really good poke lies in the quality of the fish – it has to be incredibly fresh.  Unlike other ceviche type dishes, poke does not employ any large amounts  of acids or salt that traditionally help to keep a longer life.  Usually it is mixed with a sauce that is soy or mayo based, so if done poorly, it will add an additional level of funkiness to your meal that will seem like a make-out session with the Little Mermaid.

Your immediate first impression is that this is going to be a great place or horrible place. It is located off of Ali’i Dr as part of the Bali Kai Resort.  The term “resort” is used very loosely here, and it reminds me of something Norman Bates would run if he retired to Hawaii. It is definitely a no frills establishment – two picnic tables for dining, no bathroom (you could beg to use the resort’s if you had to), and food is served in disposable containers using scoopers. You can either get a bowl, consisting of 1 scoop choice of poke (about 1/3 lb), 1 scoop of rice, and 1 scoop side.  A plate is twice that amount.DSC_0139Da Poke shack was the best poke that I have ever hand.  And not by a small margin, either.  The difference in taste is immediately noticeable.  The guys who started the restaurant used to sell it out of their truck, roadside, using the yellowfin they caught that morning.  They still prepare their poke with fish caught that morning.

The Dynamite Poke is made with aioli and avocado.  As you can see in the photo, there is a lot of avocado, which helps to produce a wonderful creaminess to the poke.  This bowl was served with a side of ocean salad.DSC_0137

Pele’s Kiss is another great tasting poke that is a bit spicier.  It is a tad spicy and not mouth burning hot.  The chile sauce provides a nice contrast to the flavor of the tuna.DSC_0136

As you can see the poke plate is substantial and is quite filling.  This one has a scoop if Dynamite Poke and Pele’s Kiss Poke, with crab salad and Ho’io which is a fern shoot salad.  If you haven’t ever tried fern, it is a mild, tender green that tastes like a hybrid of Chinese broccoli and asparagus.  But with this, your pee won’t produce any noxious vapors is it does with asparagus.DSC_0135

Since you are getting fresh fish, the prices are higher than a standard poke place, but still a relative bargain – $8.50 for a bowl and $16.50 for a plate. There are also non-fish and cooked items in case someone in your group can’t take the poke.

Bill total – 2 poke bowls, 1 plate, 2 soft drinks, and tax – around $40.

Website: www.dapokeshack.com

Da Poke Shack on Urbanspoon

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