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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

For The Freshest Fish, Make A Poke Stop

Poke Stop Mililani’s Shoreline Chef Plate | Jo McGarry photo

Unless you’re sitting right on Pier 38 at Honolulu Harbor, it’s hard to find fresher, better priced fish than at Elmer Guzman’s Poke Stop. That the store is located in a strip mall in heavily concreted Mililani makes it all the more of a joyful discovery.

I was there the other day at lunchtime and stopped by to say “hi” to ever-busy Guzman and his wife/business partner, Sam.

Poke Stop Mililani (opposite Longs at Mililani Mauka) is Guzman’s second location (the original Poke Stop is in Wahiawa), and it’s been there for about five years. You’d never know it from looking at the store, which is as clean and as fresh as the day it opened despite a heavy cooking schedule that keeps the kitchen pumping.

“It works well,” he says of the casual restaurant, where poke, plate lunches and specialty entrees are eaten in or out. A glass-refrigerated cabinet displays a dozen or more poke selections, and a menu board offers a host of daily specials, where choosing just one seems particularly difficult.

Helpful staff seem used to the problem and are quick to recommend some of Poke Stop’s top plates. The Executive Chef’s Plate ( $12.95) offers Kalbi boneless short ribs, garlic shrimp, garlic island fish and poke.

The Sous Chef Plate ($10.95) features short ribs with fresh island fish and poke, and the Shoreline Chef Plate ($10.95, the name is in reference to Guzman’s recipe book) offers “Casian” spiced fresh fish, garlic shrimp, furikake salmon belly and poke. A nice touch is that you choose your own poke with each dish.

Guzman’s signature spice is a blend that pays tribute to his island heritage and his chef training in New Orleans. “We call is Casian,” he says, “like Cajun and Asian.”

You’ll find a great example of it in Guzman’s Blackened Island Fish ($8.95), where the spicy blend of herbs and spices is rubbed on fresh fish and finished with a dash of soy lime sauce. There’s a ton of local produce on the menu alongside the fish, and last week Peterson’s eggs were fea-

Poke Stop Mililani’s Shoreline Chef Plate | Jo McGarry photo

tured in a number of dishes. Fresh fish and awesome poke might be the last thing you’d expect to find in Mililani, but Guzman brings the shoreline to wherever he goes …

If you’re looking for something a little different this Mother’s Day and have left it too late to book brunch (it is, remember, the busiest brunch day of the year), then you might want to check out the concert on the lawn

May 11 at Hilton Hawaiian Village. An outdoor concert at Hilton inspires lucky-we-live-Hawaii moments, with great food, first-rate entertainment and an always spectacular firework display.

At the last one I attended, Henry Kapono played to an enthusiastic crowd, and the fireworks were better than most seen on Fourth of July. The $25 ticket price for general admission is a steal, especially when you consider the lineup of

talent: John Cruz, Raiatea Helm, Maunalua and ukulele sensation Taimane will play between 6 and 9 p.m. It’s an outstanding way to celebrate with friends and family without the hassle of the Sunday brunch …

Another way of avoiding the brunch crunch is to head for lunch with a touch of luxury. La Mer, the signature fine-dining restaurant at Halekulani, usually opens for dinner, but will honor moms this year with a special four-course Sunday lunch. At $79 per person, it’s a perfect way to experience what makes La Mer a world-class restaurant.

Happy eating!

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