Milford is fast becoming a ‘foodie’ destination. The Cambridge Dictionary definition of a foodie is: A person who loves food and is very interested in different types of food. If this is you, Ola Poké needs to be on your list.
Ola Poké is the new kid on the block and walking into the Kitchener Road eatery, the first thing that strikes you is the burst of colour with tropical imagery along one wall. Already you feel there will be fresh, zingy flavours available to satisfy not only your tastebuds, but your inner wellbeing too.
Owner Jay Kim is a long-time hospitality professional. He’s owned restaurants, cafes and sushi bars and is loving the simpler, modern food that he enjoys preparing fresh for his customers. ‘Ola’ means healthy in Hawaiian and Jay himself is the picture of health and youthful energy.
So, what is poké (pronounced pokay)? Poké means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces. Very popular in Hawaii, and taking over from sushi bars around the world, this style of meal seems to fit the current growing trend of healthy eating.
Says Jay: “It’s kind of like deconstructed sushi. All the ingredients are assembled around your base and you can choose to mix it all in or enjoy each morsel with a taste of sauce or companion ingredient.”
Quality is key, and the tuna and salmon are sashimi grade, delivered to the store by a Japanese supplier.
The counter is full of colour with the refrigerated display showing off the choices of protein and vegetables on offer. For those who struggle with too much choice, you are guided by four easy steps:
Step 1: Choose your base of rice or salad.
Step 2: Choose 1-2 of seven proteins
Step 3: Select your ‘mix-ins’ from 12 vegetables
Step 4: Pick from six sauces
Finally, as texture is important to any foodie, you must then top it off with any of the six seasonings known as ‘crunches’. These include tempura crisps, almonds, fried shallots, chilli strips, crispy seaweed or coconut. Miso Soup is an add-on option.
I started to work out how many combinations there would be but once I got into the thousands I gave up. My favourite poké bowl combo is to choose some rice (I love raw fish with rice), then add tuna and tofu. My sauce choices are spicy with crunch toppings of seaweed strips and crispy shallots. The best thing about eating this way is that each forkful is its own combination, so every mouthful is unique. I advise you to take time to savour.
The rubbed natural pine high top tables invite you to casually rest awhile and eat from stylish ceramic bowls, or you can relax at the window and watch the world pass by. If you are on the go, or heading down to the beach for a picnic lunch or dinner, Ola Poké provides bio-degradable takeout bowls and cutlery.
Chatting to some local business owners who were enjoying a late lunch, we found out that they love the quick convenience of picking up a poke bowl to eat in or take back to the office. The fact that it is healthy is a bonus, as they can keep up the energy levels needed to run their own business for a few more hours.
Ola Poké, 85 Kitchener Road, Milford 09 489 7546
Open 7 Days 10.30am - 8.00pm