Mainland poke shack with fresh island fish

Hawaiian Poke Bowl –

St. George, UT – Hawaiian, Seafood – $$ – Casual
Sifter Critique

Brandon O. - Pro Sifter and PhotographerJun 8, 20202

Overall 4.1 / 5.0

4.8

Food

4.2

Service

2.5

Ambience

5

Value

Overview

The raw Hawaiian tuna salad, known as poke “Hawaiian for chunk,” isn’t a new concept. However, lately, we’ve been seeing more and more Utah restaurants offering it. St. George Utah is far from the pristine fishing waters near Waimanalo, Oahu, but you would never know it. The quality of Hawaii Poke Bowl’s Ahi is incredible! I’ve worked at some of the top seafood restaurants in Hawaii, spear fished, and frequented fishing markets. I know fresh fish, and it doesn’t get much better than this!

The owners are Hawaiian natives, growing up with a family of fishermen. Roberta has been running the poke shack since 2011 and has a secret source. She told me that they deliver the fish within 24 to 48 hours of catching it. If you’ve ever wanted to try amazing poke, come here and grab a sample. Better yet, buy a bowl! Besides seafood, you can also get authentic Kalua pork!

Value:

Entrees start at $10 for a regular bowl, with one poke option. Then there’s the large bowl. It includes three poke options, for $22. Even the regular size is quite large with a heaping of fish. For us, the value was there. I would expect to pay $30 plus for this much seafood in nearby Las Vegas, at a nice sit-down restaurant.

Most popular dishes:

The poke changes daily. Sample the different options to find what suits you best.

What I ordered:

The Spicy Ahi, Shoyu Ahi, and Kalua Pork bowls.

Food quality:

Ahi Poke
As I mentioned, the fish is the star of the restaurant! The Spicy Ahi blended Asian chili with garlic, mayo, scallions, and caviar. It was a little spicy but very savory. The flavor of the fish was clean, pure, and fresh. It’s sashimi-grade with no fishiness. The flesh was a deep red, cold, no sinew strains, and sliced into thick cubes. They marinate the other pokes in sesame oils, soy sauce, herbs, spices, and chili. Many Utah poke shops will disguise old, brown-colored flesh by using sauces and dies to make it redder. Shoyu poke is famous for doing this, but not at Hawaii Poke Bowl!

Other Poke
We also tried some of the prawn and octopus pokes. The octopus was fresh and blended acidic and chili flavors, like ceviche. The shrimp poke was a bit chewy and overcooked, with active soy and Asian chili base. When in doubt, stick with the Yellow Fin Tuna (ahi).

Kalua Pork
The Kalua pork had a mild smoky flavor and was very moist. There were several fatty pieces mixed in with the meat that was quite chewy. It would have been better without the blubbery parts. The rice was sticky, and al dente.

Dietary Needs:

Those with soy, wheat, nut and shellfish allergies be sure to inquire about which foods you can eat. Many of the sauces use a blend of the ingredients mentioned above.

The Ambiance:

Don’t expect anything extravagant! Imagine a shack housed within an old strip mall, with aged 70’s decor and tables. The entire environment is a bit musty, but at the same time, felt authentic. The best poke stops that I frequented in Hawaii felt similar. Come here for the food, the island music, and the friendly people, not the setting.

Service:

Roberta and her husband run the restaurant. They were warm, inviting, and allowed us to sample many types of poke before we made a decision. We came at 11:30 am and there was already a long line. It moved quickly. All the food is ready to go and the service was prompt. It was, however, hard to find a clean, open table.

What I liked most:

The quality of the Ahi, the authentic flavors of the poke and Kalua pork, and genuine aloha from the owners. For a brief moment, it transported me back to the islands.

What I disliked most:

Other than the ambiance, there’s not much to dislike. I came for the food!

The verdict:

This place far exceeded my expectations! I will be back! If you want to try poke elsewhere in Utah, sample it first. If they don’t let you taste it, don’t buy it! Fresh Ahi poke should be a deep red and have a dull shine. The older the fish, the slimier it becomes.

Food prepared in this establishment may contain wheat, shellfish, dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts. Please ask the establishment prior to consuming any food.

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