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Hoi Polloi Poi?

oystertripe Aug 27, 2012 01:59 PM

We will visit Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai & Lahaina on a cruise in January. My wife wants to try poi. I understand that it's grated taro root and has all of the gustatory joy of school paste, but hey, I'll try it too. Maybe we will be surprised? Any opinions?

Can poi be purchased outside of the tourist luaus? Where would you suggest we search for it? Maybe there's a chain of "Poi Huts" or "House o' Taro". Does it come with Spam?

As you can see, my ignorance is quite impressive. Your charitable recommendations will be most appreciated.


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  1. m
    macaraca RE: oystertripe Aug 27, 2012 10:33 PM

    Poi can be purchased in one pound bags at supermarkets all over the state, supplies permitting, and at many other smaller shops as well.

    It would be served with plate lunches or as a side in Hawaiian-themed restaurants...not talking about any place featuring tiki glasses with mini umbrellas...but places like Ono Hawaiian Foods on Kapahulu near Waikiki.

    It is quite bland when fresh; as it ages a day or two it ferments slightly, becoming more tangy, a taste often preferred by locals. As production is limited, and many people with limited incomes cannot afford as much poi as they would like, please don't waste any.

    1. h
      honu2 RE: oystertripe Aug 27, 2012 11:39 PM

      Poi is not generally eaten as a stand alone item, but as the starch accompaniment to Hawaiian or other local foods, such as kalua pork, lau lau, curry beef stew, squid luau. Thus, for the best tasting experience, you should seek it out as part of a meal, rather than buying it in a store to try. Poi is now fairly expensive. Since you are on a cruise, one thing you might want to try is to ask the maitre d' early on whether the ship could accommodate poi you purchase on shore at a dinner or lunch in which teriyaki anything (chicken or steak, for example) would be served.

      1. KaimukiMan RE: oystertripe Aug 28, 2012 01:53 AM

        for the most part poi is an acquired taste. i think for a beginner it is best to think of it as a thick gravy or condiment, that you eat with other foods, especially meat or other protein. using your hands or your utensils, depending on the situation, dip your protein into the poi, or put some poi on the protein as you eat, one bite at a time.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan
          manomin RE: KaimukiMan Aug 28, 2012 12:52 PM

          I agree with the other posters. Yes, it is most expensive and not to be treated lightly nor wasted. It would be best as others say to try to find a Hawaiian restaurant to taste it in the correct "pairings" if you will regarding foods. If you are lucky enough to find anyone serving Pa'i'ai you might find this more to your liking as it is often fried or grilled and accepts the other flavors cooked with it very well. I recently went to an event that featured this preparation and it was an amazing night (at the Whole Ox Deli.)

          1. re: manomin
            oystertripe RE: manomin Aug 28, 2012 01:32 PM

            Thank you to all. I am edified. Poke sounds like it will be worth trying, too. Cheers!

            1. re: oystertripe
              KaimukiMan RE: oystertripe Aug 28, 2012 02:42 PM

              yes, if you like raw fish at all then you are sure to find a poke you like. Be sure to try various types. Spicy, limu, shoyu, etc. some more traditional, some less.

        2. Debbie M RE: oystertripe Aug 28, 2012 02:17 PM

          In Honolulu, at the Pineapple Room in Macy's Ala Moana, they have one of my favorite appetizers, Da Poi Cup, which is probably as easy a way as any try it. Its a ramekin of poi, topped with kalua pig and lomi tomato. If you split it, you can both check it out in an optimum presentation, without too much waste, if you decide you don't like it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Debbie M
            honu2 RE: Debbie M Aug 28, 2012 10:17 PM

            Great suggestion. I am going to try it the next time I hit Macy's Ala Moana.

            1. re: honu2
              oystertripe RE: honu2 Aug 29, 2012 06:11 AM

              I agree!

          2. t
            tardigrade RE: oystertripe Sep 2, 2012 07:04 PM

            In Lahaina, Aloha Mixed Plate includes a small dish of poi with some of their meals. It's a long walk from where the cruise ships dock. The poi I've had there varied a lot, sometimes almost sweet, sometimes sour.

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