Happy Place: Pololi
Pololi has a laid-back, welcoming and friendly atmosphere and serves amazing Poke (poh-keh) bowls with Kona beer for a true Hawaiian experience.
Poké Bowls, Kona Beer and Aloha Spirit at Pololi
I don’t know about you, but I am happiest with my feet in the sea, a flower in my hair and a drink in my hand, so imagine how excited I was when I first saw the hand-painted hibiscus at the entrance to Pololi. My mind flooded with happy memories of family vacations in Hawaii, and I rushed in. I didn’t even know what they served, but I knew I had to have it. Lucky for me, it was Hawaiian poké bowls and Kona beer. Poké bowls! My heart skipped a beat.
One of the things I like most about Hawaii (other than Poké) is the laid-back, welcoming and friendly atmosphere and upon entering Pololi, I immediately felt this Aloha Spirit. Maybe it was the genuinely cheerful greeting we received, or perhaps it was the flower leis and giant hula girl wall painting. Either way, for a second, I felt like I was in a Poké shack in Hawaii. It’s a hard thing to replicate but, Pololi impressed me. And so did their Poké.
So, what is Poké? Poké (pronounced poh-keh) is cubes of raw, sashimi grade seafood marinated in tasty ingredients like onion, soy sauce, avocado, cucumber and chilies (to name a few). It is a favourite amongst locals in Hawaii and is served all over the islands. And now, it is being served in Hong Kong! How cool is that?
To get your Poké on at Pololi, start by choosing salad OR (warm) white or brown as a base for your Poké bowl. You can also opt for a combination of rice and salad. If you go for the salad, make sure to add a helping of sesame dressing for no extra charge. If you are super “pololi” (hungry in Hawaiian), the rice is probably your best bet. We decided on one of each.
Next up, choose your proteins. Never done the hokey Poké before? No worries. Let one of the cheerful owners behind the counter know that it’s your first time at Pololi. They will walk you through the menu and allow you to sample the proteins they have on offer. We tried 6 or 7 flavours and loved all of them. With delicious choices including spicy ahi, yuzu salmon, korean tako and sesame tofu, it was difficult to select just two. The staff suggested that we try one creamy Poké and one marinated Poké in each bowl, so that’s what we did.
Poké bowls at Pololi are $90. You can add extra Poké to your bowl for $30 (50g extra) or $60 (100g extra). I would like to point out how gorgeous these bowls are. Colourful, fresh, healthy, who wouldn’t want to eat this? Just beautiful, tasty food.
Pololi also sell 4 types of Kona Brew Co. Hawaiian beers (Longboard, Big Wave, Fire Rock & Cast Away) for $60, along with soda, tea and cider. Here’s what we ordered:
Yuzu Salmon and Spicy Mayo Ahi on salad: I’ll be honest, the salad was just salad. But, the leaves were fresh and the sesame dressing was lovely and sweet. The yuzu salmon was marinated in yuzu (citrus), with pine nuts and coriander. I liked the freshness of this dish and thought the pine nuts were a great substitute for the kukui nuts used in Hawaii. The spicy mayo ahi was a combo of tuna, sriracha mayo, chilies and onions. It was creamy and rich, with just a bit of a kick.
Wasabi Mayo and 100g extra Spicy Avocado Ahi on white rice: One of us (don’t look at me) was particularly hungry. Ha ha. So, this bowl had a rice base and an extra 100g of Poké. It may not look like a lot of food; but, we were stuffed. The wasabi mayo ahi was a mixture of Japanese tobiko (flying fish roe), wasabi, mayo and cucumber. The richness of the mayo evened out the pungency of the wasabi nicely.
If you’re going for something a bit more fiery, order Pololi’s spiciest Poké – the Spicy Avocado Ahi. This Poké is marinated in gochujang (a Korean chili paste) and gives a real tingle, which is balanced out by avocado and cucumber. I’m a spice-addict so, this was my favourite Poké at Pololi. This is actually a big statement, because everything we tried at Pololi was delightful.
So, if you’re in town and looking for a quick, healthy lunch, why not hula over to Pololi for some Hawaiian Poké? You’ll probably see me there… daydreaming.
Mahalo, Pololi, for bringing one of my favourite Hawaiian treats to Hong Kong!
Pololi is located at 35-39 Graham Street. They are open every day from 11:30am – 10pm.
Brandie is an American living in Hong Kong with a British husband, a Chinese pug and a Parisian soul. She believes in making bold decisions and living a life full of happiness and laughter. A few years ago, she quit her job as an attorney to explore the world and she blogs about it here: