Monday, April 28, 2014

Poke Bar at Costco in San Francisco


One of the many things I enjoy eating in Hawaii is poke. It’s a raw fish dish, that generally combines fresh yellowfin tuna, also known as ahi, with local ingredients like seaweed, Hawaiian salt and kukui nuts. There are seemingly infinite varieties, with ingredients such as green onions, sesame seeds, mayonnaise, tobiko, wasabi, sriracha, etc. In Hawaii you can find it at delis but also in supermarkets where there is often a poke bar in the seafood department. 

Well, guess what just arrived at Costco in San Francisco? A poke bar! It features fresh wild ahi from different regions of the world including the Philippines and Sri Lanka and marinades flown in directly from Hawaii. It’s all prepared fresh at the store and sold only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Prices range from $15.99 to $17.99 per pound.


Varieties include ahi shoyu poke, ahi wasabi poke, and ahi spicy poke. They also had two cooked shrimp styles of poke. I tried the ahi limu poke which had onions, ogo (Hawaiian seaweed) Hawaiian salt, kukui nut, sesame seed and sesame oil. The limu was my favorite, it was very fresh and had a particularly nice balance of flavors and brightness. It's cool and savory, but has an intensity from the dense fish and slightly nutty and spicy flavors. 


I also tried the ahi wasabi poke with wasabi, tobiko, green onion, kukui nut, hawaiian salt and sesame seeds. It was good but really spicy! You definitely want to try this one with a beer. 

The poke tasted just like what I’ve had in Hawaii. It’s those local Hawaiian ingredients that really make this dish so special, and something that’s hard to make on the mainland.  In Hawaii it's served as a snack or appetizer and is popular with rice. With all due respect to the Costco food court, it sure beats pizza or hot dogs! 

According to the blog Chomping Board, the weekend poke bar is also available at the Redwood City, Concord and Almaden locations. 

I know this isn't "local" but sometimes you just need a little Hawaii fix. I wish I could tell you if the fish was sustainable, but I really don’t know. Several years ago Costco stopped selling 12 of the most “at risk” fish such as Atlantic cod and halibut, Chilean sea bass, swordfish and bluefin tuna, but I don’t know much about their ahi sourcing other than what I was told by someone in the Costco meat department.