Food Travel America

1st destination ’14 = Hawaii + a Poke challenge

Here we go… 2014 for Vacation Sus begins in Hawaii. As always I am a very spoiled girl and am on a 8 day visit to Ka’anapali on Maui with the entire Rappaport clan followed by a 5 day visit to Honolulu.

I left a clear, sunny (albeit cold) Vancouver on Sunday to arrive late in Maui to find rain. Very unlike me, I did not check the weather before my trip, so I am worried that I have packed completely incorrectly. The weather forecast for the week looks somewhat unpromising, but I am hopelessly optimistic when it comes to these things, so I have  crossed my fingers and performed a sun dance.

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On my first morning, I went out to watch the sunrise with my cup of coffee. No sunrise, but still warmth. Guess it’ll have to do.

I am trying to maintain positivity on the weather situation and decided to start researching what I want to put on my eating agenda for my 12 days in Hawaii. Planning the family trip to Maui burnt me out a bit, so when I started researching the food scene and came up with not a lot to pique my curiosity, I didn’t delve any deeper. But now I’m here and know that there are gems to be had. Better late than never to plan out my eating adventures.

I noticed that the rain seemed to be subsiding, so I decided a walk to get a lay of the land (or sea) was in order.

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The walk helped calm me and slow down to the pace that Vacation Sus craves. It also helped me to work up an appetite for lunch. My quick bit of research led me to Shark Pit, a food truck serving up “funked up farm food”. I liked the concept that the food was sourced locally and more importantly the menu looked to be filled with things I wanted to eat.

"Shark Pit Kaanapali"

"Shark Pit Kaanapali shrimp taco"

Funked Up Fish Taco – Tropical chipotle, house slaw, wasabi aioli and Sriracha.

"Shark Pit Kaanapali fish taco"

Spicy shrimp taco – Tropical chipotle, house slaw, Korean aioli and Sriracha

"Shark Pit Kaanapali furikake"

Furikake dusted corn – this is one of my favourite things to get in Hawaii.

"Shark Pit Kaanapali Burger"

Paniolo crunch burger – Smoked Maui maple bacon, crispy onions, blue cheese and bbq aioli. I’m not one run to order a burger, but heard this was a winner. It definitely was a Winner in my books!

"Shark Pit Kaanapali taro bun"

A bit over the medium rare I ordered, but still so flavourful. The taro bun made it that much more special.

"Kaanapali Shark Pit"

As we were leaving, we noticed a man dropping off fruit to some of the vendors. We wandered over to check out what he had. For $5, we were able to pick up enough papaya and apple bananas to last us for the next few days and as an added bonus, my curiosity landed us a few lilikoi(passionfruit) thrown in as a bonus.

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One of my favourite food things in Hawaii is the poke. Most simply, poke is cubed raw ahi marinated in salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes and onions (shoyu poke). My favourite is limu poke where Hawaiian algae (limu) is included. Another typical variety is where furikake (dried seaweed) is added. For the process of comparison, these are the 3 types I always sample. There are other varieties of poke with the addition of things like kimchee, mayonnaise-y things, or avocado and sometimes other seafood is used such as shrimp, octopus or crab. But at the end of the day, I always gravitate back to the limu poke.

In past visits, I’ve tried to eat as much poke as I can, but have found there’s only so much 1 or 2 people can eat. On this trip, with 8 of us, I have realized that it is a fantastic opportunity to put a real dent in the poke scene with opportunity for variety and frequency.

In the past, I’ve always been happy with the poke that I’ve picked up at Costco in Honolulu. But I’ve heard that the quality has gone down and the pieces of ahi being used are more sinewy, a big no no in my books. The gang picked up some poke from Costco before I arrived and so I sampled some of that on the night of my arrival. While I enjoyed it, I knew I could find better. I’ve done some research on the topic of the “best poke” and have a list of places to try.

First up was Foodland which claims to be the “best place to buy poke in Maui”. I immediately read between the lines to see that they were not claiming to be the best poke, but the best place to buy it. This claim needed more investigation.

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We were the only ones at the poke counter, so it gave us ample opportunity to sample before we committed. The guy serving us was super friendly and helpful, so I asked him about the claim. He reinforced my thought, that it was “the best PLACE to buy it”, and it’s where he buys it. But was it the best? He was a good Foodland employee and wouldn’t divulge any more than that, although he did encourage me to ask around to see what other locals thought.

"Foodland shoyu poke"

Shoyu poke

"Foodland limu poke"

Limu poke

"Foodland furikake poke"

Furikake poke

The Foodland poke was very delicious and has set a high standard on the poke challenge I am on while I’m in Hawaii. Yes, I am on the hunt to find delicious poke in Hawaii. Heck, with all the rain we’re expected to experience, I need something to entertain myself with.

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