Lana’i ‘Ohana Poke Market: Magically Delicious
By Vanessa Wolf
Lana’i ‘Ohana Poke Market really chaps our hide.
Without hesitation, the worst thing about the place is that it’s on Lana’i, a 50-minute, occasionally nauseating boat ride from Maui.
Tis bullsh*t, my friends.
If that weren’t enough, while you are within chewing distance of it, ‘Ohana Poke will force – FORCE: twist your arm, push you up against a wall and give you an authoritative slam to make it clear it means business – you to eat well beyond what your stomach or common sense can bear.
Where do these people get off making some of the best poke we’ve ever had in our lives?
Their skills with raw fish defy logic.
While standing at the counter debating our options, we noticed a woman next to us ordering pint upon pint of ahi poke.
She was gorgeous: flowing red hair, a long green dress and a smile that would stop traffic.
We’re fairly certain she was a deity sent to spread the word of Lana’i ‘Ohana Poke Market to the human world because when we looked quizzically at her village-sized order, she spoke to us, eyes glowing and said, “It’s made with magic.”
Well that was it.
If they are selling something made with magic, we want in.
We started with the Maui Onion Ahi Poke ($16.99/lb). Made with ahi, sesame seeds, magic and sweet Maui and green onions, it was rather salty… which completely worked with the rice upon which it rested. Together they were pitch perfect.
The Furikake Ahi Poke ($16.99/lb.) has a pronounced nori seaweed flavor, rendering it reminiscent of a sushi roll. Topped with green onions and tobiko (flying fish roe), it may force us to move to Lana’i.
Sometimes the differences between different renditions of poke aren’t terribly distinguishable, but in this case they are, making it that much harder to pick a favorite.
The Shoyu Ahi Poke ($16.99/lb.) is deeply marinated and equally excellent. For those who want to taste less “fish,” this version with green and white onions and a mild ginger flavor would be a safe bet.
The Limu Kohu Ahi Poke ($16.99/lb.) was – no surprises here – delish. Lightly seasoned with salt, the briny flavor of the limu kohu (an edible brown seaweed) shines through and adds a nice crunch.
Still, if it were fair to choose a favorite child – and it isn’t – ours would be Spicy Ahi ($16.99/lb).
Oh Spicy, with your black sesame seeds, green and white onions, and mayo/Sriracha sauce: we miss you. Why don’t you ever call?
Make no mistake: that spicy ahi poke IS magic. It tastes like candy.
Well, maybe not candy. Kids might not be so happy if you passed out fistfuls on Halloween. But why would you do that when your own mouth is so much more deserving?
Yes, $16.95 is higher per pound than you’ll pay in a most grocery stores, but Lana’i ‘Ohana’s version is made with magic.
And magic is expensive.
Just ask Harry P. how much his schoolbooks or one of those white owls goes for.
If it turns out you’re not so much into fish, ‘Ohana Poke Market also sells Kim Chee Shrimp ($13.95/lb).
The shrimp is cooked and the primary flavors we noted were shoyu, garlic, sesame oil, and scallions. Kim Chee? Not so much, but still delicious.
Vegan? The Ocean Salad ($8.95/lb.) features lightly seasoned goma wakame seaweed and sesame seeds. All the ocean flavor you crave and none of the dead sea creatures.
You aren’t limited to purchasing poke by the pound.
The friendly folks behind the counter can also whip you up something a little more filling.
A Poke Bowl (poke on rice) will run you $7.50 and a Poke Bowl Deluxe with poke, rice, mac salad and teriyaki beef is $8.95.
For an additional dollar they’ll sear the raw fish for you, as well.
By now you’re probably saying to yourselves, “These people have a way with the bounty of the sea, but how do they fare with land-based creatures?”
The teriyaki beef that comes in the poke bowl deluxe is worth diving in and dog paddling to Lana’i for.
Maybe we were just starving after such a long swim, but the tender, flavorful meat rendered one word in our notes: “outstanding.”
The Poke Market only accepts cash and there’s no real seating to speak of, minus some picnic tables outside that are also quite popular with swarms of flies.
It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the earlier you get there, the better. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)