When I travel, I like to eat where the locals eat. On one of my solo jaunts to Hawaii, I rented a car and just meandered around the island of Oahu. I had already spent some time in Waikiki, so I decided to revisit some of my favorite spots and check out a few new places. I planned on overnighting in Ko’ Olina, but I was getting the munchies and had been told I just HAD to check out Poke Stop in Waipahu. I’m so glad I did.
Poke Stop is owned by Chef Elmer Guzman who was named one of the “Top Ten Rising Chefs” by Food and Wine Magazine just after his graduation from culinary school. He landed a job in New Orleans and spent time in the kitchen learning from Emeril Lagasse. Elmer already had a good culinary foundation from his previous years working under Chef Alan Wong at the Canoe House on The Big Island. Elmer’s journey through culinary creations is evident with a taste of his poke.
When you drive up to Poke Stop, you’d never expect what hides behind the doors. The place is small and unassuming, but I could definitely feel the love when I walked inside. I was honored to meet Elmer and his daughter, who was his sole reason for moving back to Hawaii. When Elmer’s wife became pregnant, he knew he wanted to raise his family where his heart was – Hawaii.
Elmer doesn’t just serve poke at Poke Stop. There are also cookbooks and spices to bring home. Since I was staying in Ko’Olina, I learned that many tourists come by Poke Stop to get fresh fish to grill in their condos or on their hotel’s outdoor cooking area. Elmer was nice enough to box up some samples of his wonderful poke and we sat outside on the picnic tables talking story and laughing.
Poke Stop is a wonderful experience with delicious poke and more. You can’t get more local than this and I felt like I was special thanks to the hospitality of Elmer Guzman and his staff. I will admit, not only did I eat some poke at lunch, but what I still had leftover made a great midnight snack! If you visit Oahu, be sure to put Poke Stop on your list of must-see places where you can grab some local cuisine to go while exploring the island.
94-050 Farrington Hwy, E-4 in the Waipahu Town Center
Waipahu, Hawaii 96797