The 5 Best Places to Eat Poke

img_8101I don’t know why it took the rest of the country so long to catch on to poke. I’ve been hooked on Hawaii’s beloved raw-fish dish, pronounced poh-kay, ever since I moved to Oahu, nearly 10 years ago. As common to the islands as hamburgers are to the mainland, it’s Hawaii’s version of ceviche, minus the citrus, often made with cubed ahi (yellowfin or bigeye tuna) and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Rare is the supermarket or social gathering that doesn’t have poke. Elsewhere, you might bring wine and cheese to a party; in Hawaii, it’s more likely beer and poke.

All About the Bonies


Photo by Ryan T. Foley

Jon Jon Tabon told me to blend into the sky and sea. My pants, he’d said, should be in shades of tan or beige, my shirt light blue or gray. “What you are trying to do is camouflage yourself from the most timid fish there is,” he’d said. “It will see you from a good distance if you wear something too bright.”

I meet Tabon in the parking lot of McDonald’s in Kīhei wearing my best impression of the sky and ocean. We drive past strip malls on both sides of congested South Kīhei Road, then pull onto a dirt shoulder barely wide enough for his truck. He leads us—myself and his client for the day, Jon Biel, the father of actress Jessica Biel—along a path next to a grassy field. Suddenly the cars and the condos and commercial buildings drop out of view, and we are on a white-sand beach. The West Maui Mountains fill the horizon. This is Tabon’s secret garden, and his sport—fly fishing—is the secret within a secret.


The Pig and the Lady

First, it was the pop-up with the memorable name: The Pig and the Lady—the pig being the chef, Andrew Le, and the lady his mother, Loan Le (pronounced “Lay”). Then, it spun off into a wildly popular farmers market stand selling Vietnamese sandwiches and noodles far beyond the usual banh mi and pho. Last year, it materialized in bricks and mortar on King Street in Chinatown, and the crowds followed. The Pig and the Lady quickly started getting press in national publications, and in November, The New York Times came calling. Most of the attention is focused on the Pig, and sometimes the Lady gets a mention. But The Pig and the Lady should really have been called The Pig and the Family.

The Olive Tree

“That is more confidential than anything else,” says Olive Tree Café’s Savas Mojarrad when I ask him his age. “People think I am about 60. Nobody knows my age. I have a friend—Maurice Grasso (former owner of La Gelateria)—for his 80th birthday, he had a big celebration. I said, ‘Stupid Italian, you don’t announce your age when you’re that old. What kind of chance do you have to meet a woman after this?’”