I Love Poke SD Recap

Posted by Trout on

“I Love Poke festival always takes me back to the islands of Hawaii where there’s always great friends and family with the most amazing food in the world!!!” 

—Christian Hosoi, Skateboarding Legend

What’s important in your life? Is it money? Is it family? Is it religion? Is it riding in the barrel of a big, blue wave or catching a giant Ahi? Or, maybe cranking up your favorite song on the open road? There’s no right or wrong answer because life is personal; it is what we make it out to be. Though the world’s a big place, we are all individuals. Many ingredients make us who we are and I know that in my gut. When I walked into I Love Poke SD event this year, it reminded me of who I am and what makes me tick. And more so, everyone around me had a related look… a similar aura… a parallel vibe that was as if everyone was thinking the same thing – life is good.

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Another Ono Yum sell-out event meant the floodgates broke open at 6 p.m. and more than 700 chopstick-toting poke fanatics descended on 21 chefs, who all put it on the line for the sixth annual I Love Poke San Diego. The eye candy displays alone were mind-blowing and the various types of Hawaiian poke channeled love to the taste buds of over 800 people total (in addition to ticket buyers, chefs, Ono Yum staff and volunteers, and Bali Hai employees, too!). Bluefin, yellowfin, wahoo, albacore, yellowtail, salmon, octopus, sea urchin – the list went on and on. Fish quality was high, ingredients were fresh, and most importantly, the flavors broke da mout’. I saw more eyeball rolls, heard more ono groans and saw more fist bumps; there couldn’t have been more signs of happy Hawaiian-grinds connoisseurs. Actually, I did witness a chest bump… pretty sure that was the #1 sign of poke appreciation!

“The I Love Poke event was amazing, the kids and I loved it, good food and great people. The best Poke I have ever tasted, too many great dishes to choose from, I bet judging the event was a difficult thing to do!” 

—Steve Caballero, Skateboarding Legend

If you missed the event, unfortunately I still have a little Hawaiian sea salt left to add to your wound. In addition to “Pokeland,” the I Love Poke SD also provided “Foodland” with cooked goods and “Sweetland” to finish the deal. Foodland featured some epic cooked dishes, including a perfect 10-point ride on the kalbi and kimchee tacos with Asian pear slaw and Sriracha aioli by Puesto. Mind-blowing desserts included malasadas, cakes, custards, doughnuts, tarts, cookies, ice cream and shave ice. Cheeeeeeeehhhoooooooo!!!

Mai tais ensued and Loa Greyson’s soulful island music warbled through the night like a slightly drunken Myna bird on an aerial joy ride. Ono Yum family members impressed the crowd with a hula performance, and even the keiki got into the mix with fluid motion that conveyed grace, story and Aloha. Hugs, hoots and haupia bound this event together – so stoked to be a part of such an epic night. Double-shakas to all who jumped into the ring, and until next year… Aloha, a hui hou.


“The best part about I Love Poke … Besides getting to taste all that amazing food is the incredible platform it gives to such a niche culinary experience and culture.  I loved watching everyone having such a great time eating, drinking and laughing.  It is no surprise the event was sold out.  Ono Yum created a great foodie event in a fun, relaxed, non snobby atmosphere. So whether you’re an expert in food or just in it for some fun… There is something for everyone.  I wish there was another happening next week!” 

—Sanoe Lake Eaton, Actress

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