One of the hardest things about going to college on the mainland was leaving behind all of the good food. Of course I miss my family, but at least I can Facetime them. You know what you can’t do over Facetime? Eat a mac salad from Zippy’s or a half pound of spicy ahi from Times Supermarket.
I’m sorry if you can’t relate because you either have never been to Hawaii or just missed your opportunity when you visited but, from the vast knowledge and experience I have gained in my 20 years of life, I will give you my most honest review of the newest poke place that has just opened in Capitol Hill.
Aloha Poke Co. is located on 12th Ave., right where that other poke shop closed down (ironic right?). The poke shop just celebrated their grand opening with a two-day $6 poke bowl special. I was hesitant in going since the poke shop before it failed, but I figured I would give it a try.
Aloha Poke Co, 12th ave’s new Poke restaurant.
The first time I tried going was during lunch time, which was a mistake. I couldn’t even see the end of the line. It looped around several times and trailed into a hallway towards the back of the shop. So, I returned at five p.m. hoping the line had gone down (it did but
only a little).
Thankfully they had some 2015 pop hits playing throughout the shop, which kept me entertained.
As I was jamming in line, I noticed a mural of cartoon ocean creatures, which I found to be tacky and off-putting since I was about to eat fish. (I would also like to add that it included depictions of dead cartoon fish.)
The only way that I can equate the uneasiness of seeing this is if you walked into a McDonalds and one of the walls was painted with cartoon cows and chickens with their eyes crossed out.
I quickly averted my eyes and tried to focus on the prize: poke. After waiting for 30 minutes, I finally made it up to the front but, to my disappointment, they ran out of all the 50 pounds of fresh ahi they shipped up that morning. So I settled for salmon which has always been a hit or a miss since it tends to have a fishier taste than ahi.
I got a regular poke bowl with classic white rice (they also have mixed grain rice and spring mix for all you health fanatics). The bowl came with sides which, for the record, is never added into a poke bowl in Hawaii. They added one scoop of seaweed salad, which had a nice bite to it (I wouldn’t say it’s spicy, but if you find black pepper spicy, I would avoid) and a scoop of imitation crab drizzled with unagi sauce (which was a game changer).
They topped my bowl off with two scoops of spicy salmon and pushed it down to the register. I ordered a side of mac salad because I haven’t had good mac salad in a while and the salad they serve at C Street is a disappointment and misappropriation of my culture.
At this point, like any other human being, I was starving. I had waited since lunchtime to eat this poke and had only eaten a piece of breakfast bread to hold me over until my early dinner. I separated my chopsticks and dug into my bowl, eating the sides first. I scarfed down the mac salad and demolished the sides (both delicious) and moved onto the main event, the spicy salmon. Let me just tell you, it was worth the wait.
The poke bar at Aloha Poke Co.
The salmon had no trace of fishiness at all and the fish was actually spicy. Within minutes, my bowl was completely empty, only leaving slightly swollen lips as evidence of my glorious meal. I was left with contentment, but also questioned whether I had enjoyed the poke because it was good quality or simply because I was so hungry (when you’re hungry everything, even mediocre food tastes good).
To accurately evaluate the quality of the establishment, I went back the next day right before closing. I made sure that I wasn’t too hungry but was still ready to eat. This time, I got one scoop of the Cali poke, which has avocado and a house made aioli sauce, and a scoop of Hawaiian poke made with Hawaiian salt and ogo limu marinated in a sauce.
With full confidence, I give this place a nine out of 10. Although their poke is as good as it is back home, the $10.90 (without tax) price tag leaves me thinking about the whole pound of spicy ahi I could be picking up for the same price at home.
Hunter may be reached at