Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that has been trending in North America over the past few years. Even Ottawa has a few poke shops popping up here and there, that must mean something.
So, what’s poke? Poke is essentially cubes of raw fish seasoned with – whatever you like. Well, according to Rachel Laudan, conventional poke is made with salt, seaweed, and kukui nuts. Over the years, the mix-ins have evolved to include mayo, wasabi, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and basically anything the chef’s culinary imagination brings in. Since I love raw fish, I know I would love poke as well.
We were looking to grab some food from a local Hawaiian cuisine restaurant, because the saddest thing when travelling would be to eat at a chain that you could easily find back in your home town (ie. Mcdonald’s, no offence, I still love their McFlurries). While pulling up a map search of restaurants near Lanikai Beach, the name Hibachi rang the bell in my brain’s restaurant name bank from prior research. Hibachi is a casual neighbourhood market. Not quite a restaurant because there were no servers or set tables, although there were a few chairs and tables in front of the store. There was limited parking in the back, but there was a park right across the street with lots of parking spaces.
Hibachi has a wide selection of poke, marinated meats, and spirits, beers and wines for a laid-back meal any day.
There were many options for poke, all written on top of the glass. I wasn’t sure how to order the first time we went in and it was a busy joint. My first server was impatient so I ordered in a rush, but my second server was lovely. Yep, we went back again✌. My boyfriend and I first scouted out Hibachi for lunch for ourselves, and because we enjoyed our food so much, we dragged the rest of our crew with us back for dinner that same day. You can actually request to taste the poke before you commit to one. I learned that the second time when I saw a regular order in front of me. (Note to self – always order after a local) They sold everything by weight. And you can order your poke bowl on top of rice or salad.
They had another display fridge just for different cuts of marinated meats. They were grilled to order, or you could order them to go and cook them yourself at home.
For lunch, we ordered the regular spicy tobiko ahi bowl and the kalbi plate.
The big chunks of poke tasted fresh and free of sinew, the spicy tobiko flavour was delectable with the perfect heat, too bad there was a bit too much onions for my liking (it gave me onion breath?). I requested to have mine on salad, but they gave me rice instead?. No biggie though, the rice was great, chewy and seasoned with some vinegar and sugar just like sushi rice. My boyfriend savoured his kalbi. It was thoroughly marinated and he loved how the charred parts gave it a bit more crispiness.
For dinner, I had a mini wasabi mayo ahi bowl on salad and my boyfriend had the kalbi plate AGAIN with a side of teryaki beef.
The wasabi mayo was a good blend, neither was overpowering. Poke was as fresh as lunch time, they refill them throughout the day with new batches as they run out. The lemon and yuzu beer reminded me of plain soda water, not fruity enough. They gave us the side of teriyaki beef for free, but my senile brain forgot why?. The beef was tender and savoury. I did like how the kalbi was grilled this time – not too charred and very juicy inside. My boyfriend preferred the lunch version. I guess it depended on who was playing the grill.
Our lunch and dinner were both satisfying, so I’d say Hibachi was totally worth the double visit!?