How many Poke Bowl shops are there going to be in Singapore? Not kidding, but I have seen no less than 10 different Poké Bowls shops opening up in the last 12 months.
Alakai at Everton Park is somewhat different from the rest. It makes poke fresh to order, rather than have the fish out on a display set for selection.
As owner Lon had lived in Hawaii for a long period, and familiar with how Poke Bowls are done back there, he chooses to have the food served not in a bowl, but as a Hawaiian-style plate lunch.
Here’s how it works at Alakai: You can have a choice of fish (tuna, salmon, prawns) or tofu in 150g, 250g, 500g amounts combined with a sauce, and sides of rice or salad.
There are 5 sauces available, from Alakai Ho’ono – their house mix, to soy sauce blend, coconut and lime dressing, creamy spicy Korean, to a rotating seasonal.
These are the 5:
Alakai Ho’ono Seasoning: Alakai’s house mix of spice, sesame salt, and seaweed (vegan and gluten-free)
Koiu Shoyu: Special blend soy sauce, savoury and slightly sweet
Niu Tahitian: Tahitian-style coconut and lime dressing (vegan and gluten-free)
Kai Kolea: Creamy and spicy Korean mayo sauce
Special: Rotating special based on the season
The menu can get slightly confusing for first-timers due to the naming. You can choose from signature plates of Alakai Big Poke Plate ($24.45), Yobo Poke Plate ($13.45), Nisei Poke Plate ($14.45), Tahiti Nui Poke Plate ($15.45) and Pono Poke Salad Plate ($16.45).
I had a straight-forward Yobo Plate ($13.45), with the recommended Alakai Alakai Ho’ono seasoning on salmon.
The Alakai Ho’ono is based on a traditional Hawaiian style that incorporates seaweed and would have crushed candlenut (kuah beras) as a seasoning.
As Lon pointed out, traditional Hawaiian-style pokes are generally subtle in flavour and seasoned lightly, with the flavour focus on the fish. However, I think that the local customers may recommend bolder flavours, so perhaps you may gravitate towards the Spicy Kai Kolea.
There are certain components I liked in the plate. The potato mac salad was surprisingly light and soft, and cucumber kimchi added a varying refreshing taste and crunchy texture.
While the brown rice had some crispy bits which I enjoyed, I thought that the rice was overall on the dry side.
My main feedback was that the salmon could be cut to bigger pieces, and I wished it had a fattier, smoother bite.
The disadvantage of Alakai? Its choice of location can also be worrying. In a more quaint and relaxing area of Everton Park, foot traffic is conspicuously less than the CBD areas. And Poke Bowls tend to appeal to the working executives.
However, compared to some other Poke Bowl shops, Alakai seems full of heart, has friendly vibes, and doesn’t appear as ‘mechanical’.
Perhaps it can further capitalise on its strength, and serve more unique Hawaiian sides, desserts and drinks not available elsewhere. Many come to Everton for a leisure time, and what better way to enjoy an afternoon with both Poke and sweets.
3 Everton Park #01-79 Singapore 080003 (Outram Park (Exit G, Police Cantonment from Purple Line)
Tel: +65 69044957
Opening Hours: 11am – 2pm, 6pm – 9pm (Mon – Fri)
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