Let me start by saying that I love Poke Stop. The first time I went there it was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever had in my life and has been my favorite meals since I’ve moved to the islands. It was a meal that wouldn’t have made sense to me before I met my wife with its mishmash of the local cultures, but now it’s exactly how I see food. If you’re looking to see Hawaii and its melting pot of cultural diversity represented in food, then this is another great place to go. It was homestyle, but yet professional in its flavors. Poke Stop is the brainchild of Chef Elmer Guzman. I don’t know the man personally, but he seems incredibly talented and he’s got some beautiful food pics on his Instagram.
What was TOO Good?
Everything on the menu sounded good to me, so I went with the Executive Chef Plate. This heaping plate of goodness was a full showing of the local bounty with Korean style bone-in kalbi (marinated barbecue beef short rib), garlic shrimp, garlic snapper (fish of the day), rice, salad, and a serving of a poke of your choice…I went with spicy ahi. My wife went with the Shoreline Chef Plate with blackened snapper, garlic shrimp, furikake salmon, rice, salad, and poke…my wife went with tako (cooked octopus) poke.
Now, these plates were amazing, but the highlights for us were the side dishes. Now, I’m a good ol’ boy from Missouri, so I have a certain predilection (some may call it an addiction) to fried potatoes. The Spicy Garlic Tater Tots are covered with a sweetened shoyu (soy sauce) and spicy mayonnaise—the same type of condiments used in nearly every sushi restaurant. They are amazing. I shared with the Nugget (aka my daughter), but my wife had to fight me for some tots. They were THAT good.
We also sampled the Chef E Crispy Pork Cracklings (chicharrones, crispy pork rinds). These were perfectly prepared and came out crispy and delicious. My wife shared with the Nugget, but I had to fight her for some chicharrones. We took some home, so I stole some while she slept and I called it a compromise.
This may not be the fanciest place in the island, but it’s not supposed to be. The satisfaction from this meal and the satisfaction of seeing his staff working hard and enjoying working each other was well worth the stop. This place should be on the mind of anyone visiting Oahu—especially those staying on the west side of the island, like Koolina and Kapolei since their Waipahu location is just a stone’s throw away and on your way into town. Grab a quick lunch on your way to Iolani Palace or a quick dinner on your way back!
Where can you Try Ono Oahu?
Poke Stop currently has three locations: Waipahu, Mililani Mauka, and Kapahulu (limited menu).
Waipahu was where it all began. It has the most parking, but there is no indoor seating and limited outdoor seating. There’s not a lot of space indoors to wait at Waipahu, either. But it’s a great spot for a takeaway. They do take call-in orders and delivery via Bite Squad or Quick Cuisine Hawaii, if you’re in delivery range. This location is easily accessible if you’re staying at one of the resorts on the leeward of the island, like those at Ko’olina.
If you choose to drive there, from the west side there are a couple of options but both will involve a U-turn on Farrington Hwy in order to turn into the shopping center parking lot, so prepare yourself (I was not nearly prepared enough for having to make so many U-turns when I first got here). If your route takes you north on Fort Weaver Rd (HI-76), you’ll get off at exit 5 (Waipahu) which will put you onto Farrington Hwy and you’ll have to get all the way over to the farthest left lane in order to make the U-turn at the light. If it’s not busy, you’ll be fine; if it’s busy, make sure you pay attention and wave to thank every nice person that lets you in (because that will seriously be the only way you’ll get over that many lanes in that short of a distance). The tight fits and multiple lanes means sometimes people do crazy (but borderline legal) stuff to get where they’re going. They understand they’re doing something crazy, you understand that they’re doing something crazy, they wave, you wave—it’s a thing here, just be vigilant and drive with aloha. But also, if you miss your turn, don’t worry, just keep driving and get over when you can do it safely…and check back for my post about traffic and driving here.
Mililani Mauka has a bunch of parking, but it’s not great if you’re driving a big SUV or Truck. I’m not sure if they offer delivery. This location is not near any major hotels, but this would be the location closest to Schofield Barracks.
Kapahulu has very few parking spaces, but you can easily walk to it from Waikiki. It is located in Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens next door to Rainbow Drive Inn. I don’t think the full menu is available at this location, but they do at least have a large selection of poke. Pro tip: if you’re thinking about also trying food from Rainbow Drive Inn, head over to Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens. The line tends to be much shorter, and there is indoor seating. If you do intend to drive to this location, there is street parking in front of the houses in the neighborhood, but it is all parallel parking, and can be hard to find. If you’re like me, you’ll get very excited about finding a parking space only to realize it’s someone’s driveway—this happened a couple of times.
Elmer Guzman’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/pokestop/
Poke Stop http://poke-stop.com
Iolani Palace https://www.iolanipalace.org