POG

POG and poke
This is what I had for lunch today.

I sort of constructed my own lunch today, sort of.  I got two scoops of rice from Zippy’s, which we’ll get to in another post – anybody who has spent any length of time in Hawaii knows the Zippy’s restaurant – two different types of poke from the fishmonger at Safeway, and to drink: POG.  The rice was standard, the poke was delicious, the POG was refreshing as always.

Pretty much every fishmonger at every grocery store in Hawaii sells poke, that’s how much we love it.  Poke is marinated raw fish (I covered it in another post), and I got a quarter-pound of two different kinds:  Wasabi Poke and Tsunami Poke.  I’m not exactly sure what’s in the wasabi poke, I know there’s definitely wasabi –  related to mustard and will open your nostrils – along with a creamy mayo sauce.  The tsunami poke has imitation crab, spicy mayo, and I don’t know what else.  I don’t care.  They’re both ‘ono (delicious) and I’m actually salivating right now a few hours later just thinking about it.

And then there’s POG.  Oh, sweet, sweet, POG, my favorite juice.  POG is the love child of passion fruit juice, orange juice, and guava juice.  Blend those all together and you’ve got an amazingly sweet and tangy tropical creation.  An ice-cold glass on a hot day will hit the spot, guaranteed.

Passion Fruit juice plus Orange juice plus Guava juice equals POG

Passion fruit, Hawaiian name Lilikoi, is a fruit that grows on a vine.  It’s actually invasive and grows out of control in some parts of Hawaii, but can also be found all over the world in warm climates.  There are two varieties, the purple and the yellow, we predominantly have the yellow.  At first the vine grows a psychedelic looking flower, which eventually turns into the fruit.  The skin of the fruit is hard and inedible, it’s the inner pulp and seeds that you eat (supposedly the purple variety is a little more supple, but I’ve never tried it).  It’s very tangy with a little crunch because of the seeds.  It’s a little too tangy and tart sometimes for me to eat a large fruit, but I usually try.  I find them a bunch on hiking trails.

Guava is another fruit found in warm climates that grows out of control in some parts of Hawaii.  It’s a sweet fruit and they say you can eat the seeds, but I’ve never come across a wild guava in Hawaii with seeds that made me say “yum”.  If you find guava, bite a hole in the skin, suck out the pulp, and spit out the seeds.  That’s the best way.  You’ll come across guava on quite a few hiking trails.

You mix the juice of those two fruits with orange juice – which doesn’t grow wild in Hawaii – and you get POG (Passion Orange Guava, like “bog” but with a “p”, “pog”), which has the best qualities of the different juices and is ssssooooooo good.  If you’ve never tried it, you gotta.  You can find it in just about every store,  and sometimes it’s on sale for really cheap.

I’ll probably finish this half-gallon by tonight.

SPAM Musubi

Meat lovers take heed:  SPAM is delicious!

What is SPAM?  Its name comes from “SPiced hAM.”  It’s pork.  Don’t expect to get a more detailed answer; you probably wouldn’t want to know anyway.  (For the record:  Hot dogs are pretty gross, too; they spend part of their life as a meat slurry before being pumped into a casing).

SPAM first appeared in Hawaii during World War II – when it was harder to get fresh meat to the soldiers on the front lines – and it’s been around ever since.  Hawaii is one of the top consumers of SPAM in the world; McDonald’s even serves SPAM here as part of its “Big Breakfast”!  We love everything about the savory goodness that is SPAM (except for maybe the occasional hard mystery bit of whatever-it-is present in some cans), and have worked it into numerous island recipes.

Spam musubi and SPAM and our shaka sticker

Which brings us to the ubiquitous SPAM musubi.  You’ll find SPAM musubi (pronounced moo-sue-BEE; you’ll be outed as not from here if you say moo-SUE-bee) at grocery stores, gas stations, everywhere.  They’re the perfect snack after a surf session, soccer moms make them for after-game snacks; trust me, they’re everywhere.  The SPAM musubi is made of a slice of SPAM fried in a teriyaki sauce, on a compressed bed of rice, and wrapped with nori/seaweed (think “SPAM sushi”).

If I ever have friends from out of town visit who don’t want to try SPAM, I usually trick them into eating SPAM fried rice, and when they say “man this fried rice is awesome” I break the news to them, and they’re hooked.  SPAM really is delicious.  Check out the pictures below.  That’s right, double slices of SPAM in one musubi, SPAM fried rice SPAM musubi in the other.  And they’re DELICIOUS.  That’s how much we like SPAM.

Double spam musubi and spam fried rice musubi

Give it a try when you’re here.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

‘Ono Seafood – Pokebowl

Pokebowls I've eaten

If you’ve come around Shaka Tours during lunchtime, you’ve seen me eating a pokebowl.  I get one almost everyday I’m in Waikiki.  Except on weekends, and not because they’re not open (they’re only closed on certain holidays and special occassions), but because the already bad free parking situation in Waikiki is even worse on weekends.

“So, Mike,” you say, “does that mean that this ‘Ono Seafood place is so far from Waikiki that I have to drive there?”

No.  ‘Ono Seafood is 1.1 miles from Shaka Tours at 747 Kapahulu Ave.  Not so far that you couldn’t hoof it, but just far enough that I become a sweaty mess during the endeavor, plus I need to make haste so I can get back to the office.

So what is it?  It’s a healthy helping of poke on a bed of rice for $7.00 (or $9 for the super pokebowl, an extra scoop of poke and rice), and it comes with a drink.

For those uninitiated with poke (po-kay), think Hawaiian style sashimi.  Cubes of raw fish – most typically ‘ahi (yellow-fin tuna) but any seafood may do – are marinated in shoyu (soy sauce), ginger, limu kohu (a crunchy seaweed), ‘inamona (crushed roasted-candlenut), ginger, green onions, and a little red pepper flakes for kick.  That is, of course, just one recipe, but it’s more or less the recipe for the “shoyu poke” at ‘Ono Seafood.

The real secret to good poke is the fish.  Fresh is the best, and Aunty goes right to the source and gets her fish fresh from the fish auction at Pier 38.  She’s also generous with her scoops, sometimes there’s half-a-pound of fish on my bowl.

It’s one of the best deals around, and a delicious, authentic Hawaiian dish that locals devour.  Plus, it’s loaded with options:  The flavors she has are shoyu, Hawaiian-style (less shoyu and more Hawaiian sea salt), Spicy (the pink one in the pictures), Miso, Wasabi, and you can get it in either ‘ahi or tako (octopus), or get half/half any two for $0.50 more.

Just make sure you don’t miss it!  It’s the little blue hole-in-the-wall, only the width of two parking stalls, in the corner of the American Savings Bank parking lot.