Koloa Fish Market

Craving poke, my Auntie Jocelyn brought us to Koloa Fish Market for lunch one day. What exactly is "poke" (pronounced poh-kei), you ask? It's usually a salad of raw, cubed tuna, seaweed, and Hawaiian sea salt. Different places and different people have their own variations, sometimes adding Maui or green onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Poke is one of the first dishes that pops up when people talk about Hawaiian cuisine, and it's a tasty way to have fresh fish. We went to this tiny market in Old Koloa Town to try their version!

When you emerge from Maluhia Road, the gorgeous tunnel of trees, Old Koloa Town is spread out before you. Plantation buildings were restored and converted into gift shops, as well as the popular Koloa Mill Ice Cream parlor. More of that quaint Kaua'i character! If you turn left towards the post office and cultural center, Koloa Fish Market will be one of the last destinations on the right.  

Walking up to the storefront, we could already tell that we came to a good place. The line was out the door and going down the sidewalk. People were also leaving with big paper bags full of food.

The place is tiny once you're inside. (Be careful not to stand right in front of the glass swinging door. I did. And it kept swinging right into my back.) Once you finally make it close enough to the display counter, your mouth immediately begins to water. Slabs of fresh fish, like Opah, Ahi, and Walu, are laid out. Then, just look a few inches to the right to see the plethora of poke. They have Maui onion, Korean style, wasabi, and even a smoked marlin poke. In addition to what they have raw, this market also cooks up daily fish specials with their very own wasabi cream, teriyaki, and caper-herb-butter sauces. Other traditional plate lunches include lau-lau, kalua pork, long rice, and lomi-lomi salmon. Basically, for a small place, there's a lot to choose from.

*I happened to notice that the woman at the register was wearing a San Francisco Giants shirt. As a devoted baseball fan, seeing some black & orange on the island was awesome.

I was tempted to go for an ahi poke bento box (poke over sushi rice and sprinkled with furikake, a sesame-nori seasoning). Instead, I bought the pupu platter, tako (octopus) poke, and extra seaweed salad. The pupu platter is a sampler with cocktail shrimp, seared ahi with a sesame crust & wasabi cream sauce, shoyu poke, and seaweed salad.

I love octopus, whether it's grilled, in sushi, or in poke. Whenever I see tako poke, I have to get some. The octopus was tender, not chewy, and the Maui onions highlighted that natural sweetness seafood has. The shoyu poke was simple and allowed the tuna to really shine on its own. Auntie Jocelyn ordered the Korean-style poke, and that was my favorite. Hands down, though, the star of my meal was the seared ahi. These were thick, generous portions of fish with a toasty, nutty coating. When dipped in the wasabi cream sauce, all the flavors just came together.

The fast pace of purchasing didn't allow me to really ask about the history of the shop or background of the owners, but I would definitely recommend coming here! The quality of the fish was everything you could ask for while on a tropical island. If you're on your way to Spouting Horn park or Po'ipu beach, stop by Koloa Fish Market and stock up on poke! Add a few cans of Hawaiian Sun juices, and you're ready for a perfect coast-side lunch :)