Last Updated: May 30, 2018
Poke bowls are a dime a dozen these days, with almost everyone jumping on this Hawaiian version of a chirashi. I for one don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it though – marinated sashimi on rice? I could get on that every day of the week.
Alakai is one of the new poke kids on the block, with a difference. This cosy eatery is serving up poke plates (not bowls), and the dude behind it just wants you to feel the aloha spirit as part of the dining experience.
Owner/Chef Lon explained that Alakai is Hawaiian for ‘the path to the sea’. Everton Park may be quite a distance from the beach, but you’ll feel the good vibes from the moment you step in.
The interior is bright and inviting, with a bit of a seaside cafe theme. Alakai offers takeaway as well as dine-in options, so you could always swing by for a quick lunch given its central location.
It’s truly 2017 when you realise how many establishments are moving towards automated ordering systems. Alakai has adopted a simple approach, making it easy for you to customise your poke plates and make payment immediately.
People obviously like different things, so it’s nice that you can build your own poke plate here. First, you choose your poke (salmon, tuna, prawn or tofu). Next, you choose your marinade.
Unlike other poke places, the fresh poke is only marinated upon order. And the sauces sound pretty darn awesome – I’ll get to them in a bit. You then choose your toppings like avocado or seeds, one of the many exciting sides, and finally your base (either white rice, brown rice or lau’ai salad greens).
Alakai Big Poke Plate ($24.45)
If you can’t decide on what to have, simply choose from one of the pre-set options which suggest the ideal flavour combinations. I decided to go big and order the Alakai Big Poke Plate, which is the perfect portion for one very hungry person.
This poke plate came with both salmon and tuna sashimi, two mounds of brown rice and three sides. The salmon was marinated in the Alakai Ho’ono Seasoning, which is a house marinade made with sesame, salt, seaweed and chilli.
The tuna was dressed in the Koiu Shoyu sauce, which is soy sauce based and slightly sweet. If you’re customising your poke plate, you could also try some of the more unique sauces like the Niu Tahitian, which is a blend of coconut, lime, cucumbers and sweet bell peppers.
The sauces really highlighted the flavours of the fish, and because it was freshly tossed, I could also taste the fresh fish and not just the marinades. And don’t even get me started on the sides.
I had the potato-mac salad, cucumber kimchi and spiced carrots, and could easily have eaten them all on their own. I loved the potato-mac salad the most, which might seem a strange combination for some, but added a totally different texture which I felt the plate needed.
The cucumber kimchi and spiced carrots — glazed with honey and coriander — were refreshing and added some acidity to the dish. Hawaii is a blend of races and cultures, just like Singapore, so it was quite interesting to see Korean and Malay influences in the flavours.
Lon highly recommended trying some of the signature drinks like the Hawaiian Plantation Pineapple Iced Tea ($4.95) and the Hawaiian Plantation Passion-Mandarin Nectar ($4.95).
Both were great as palate cleansers, and I especially liked the Hawaiian take on iced tea, which wasn’t too sweet at all. Alakai also serves wine and beer if you’re feeling boozy.
Like I said, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of poke, and the staff at Alakai make it about the whole experience. I left with a smile on my face, filled with a slice of Hawaii (and a whole big plate of poke).
Lon teased about a highlighter-pink Kuawa guava cake ($4.95) that will soon be available on the menu, so of course I’ll have to start planning for my next visit again.
Expected damage: $13.50 – $25