Just over a year ago I was introduced to Yelp’s first ever ‘Top 100 restaurants in America’ list. My life has significantly improved since this discovery. Anyone who knows me knows that I am crazy about reviews. If you have read any of my posts I talk about reviews a lot. I really do think it’s the best way to get an honest look at something. Before I stay anywhere, buy anything or go anywhere, I research it.
The wizards over at Yelp generated this list using a very scientific algorithm, just kidding, but they did take into account the number of reviews and their star ratings to put together the most popular and highly rated restaurants for this list. From Michelin stars to food stands this list leaves nothing out. So naturally I was overjoyed when MVK sent me this list, and even more ecstatic when I read that the number one restaurant on that list was in Kailua-Kona which was where we we heading in less than a month. How perfect.
The place that managed to nab the number one spot wasn’t a Michelin star restaurant. There was no white linen napkins, no hostess to seat us. It wasn’t trendy, or located downtown in a bustling city. In fact this place has the word shack in its name. It’s located next to some condos in the very chill city of Kona. A very unassuming store front with limited hours (seriously only open 10-6). You place your order at the counter and if your lucky you can grab a spot at one of their picnic tables located in the parking lot. Doesn’t sound too special…… Well it is! The number one restaurant according to us was Da Poke Shack.
Now if you’re like me, you’re thinking “what the heck is poke?”. Turns out poke is basically a raw fish salad…. yummy…. Typically made from Ahi tuna. Poke is Hawaiian for to cut, cube or slice. So poke is usually cubed pieces of Ahi, traditionally seasoned with Hawaiian salt, limu kohu (seaweed), Inamona (roasted kukui nut) and/or other ingredients available. Contemporary ingredients can vary from onions & soy sauce to avocado aioli, peppers, seeds and everything in between. Other variations of poke exist using octopus, salmon and other types of sashimi. From someone who does not eat seafood of any kind, my hopes of eating at the top rated restaurant were crushed…. Seriously I was devastated. If it was just me at this point I never would have never stepped through Da Poke Shacks doors. Thankfully my other half is a lot more adventurous than I so on our second attempt (go early seriously) we were up at the counter staring at the biggest fish I have ever seen being chopped up. The gentlemen working that day was amazing. He indulged us by answering all of our poke questions and giving us samples of the different pokes. MVK ordered the ‘poke bowl’ which came with a scoop of rice, 1/3lbs of poke and a side (he got edamames). Now I am very proud of myself as I tried a ton of the pokes and didn’t puke, and I actually…. really liked it. Even though I liked it a lot, I still couldn’t bring myself to order an entire seafood meal so I opted for the Kalua pork (slow roasted pork shoulder) and it was ahhhhmazing. Oh and did I mention that everything on the menu is less than ten bucks…?
Side note, I did totally steal off MVK’s plate while we were eating 🙂
If you ever find yourself in Kona and you’re craving some fresh, local, good, cheap food please do yourself a favour and head to Da Poke Shack. You can thank me later!
Yelp has since released their second ever top 100 list for 2015 which you can peruse here. Da Poke shack is no longer the reigning champ, but they still hold on at spot 51. SoI guess I have a new number one restaurant I need to visit!
Have you been to any of the restaurants on these lists? Let me know in the comments below!