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Findings & Conclusion

We didn't have the limitation of reheating this time, but we had to make sure we iced down each poke. The only limitation I could think of was that we had to get previously frozen ahi shoyu poke from Foodland (Koko Marina) cause that's all they was selling that day. The rest of the places had fresh ahi shoyu poke. Even though we thought this was a limitation, it didn't seem to make a difference because Foodland came in 3rd place. What's up with dat!?

I think that's the only limitation I could think of for this one. Was pretty even Steven.

Were the judges credible?
  • I think so cause they ranked Foodland (control double) 3rd and 4th place even if they didn't know we entered it 2 times as a control double. They scored it almost the same.

Now for some insights. So what about all the people that talk about shoyu poke?
  • First thing first. Sean "Poke Master" did well again with one of his picks Keeaumoku Seafood coming in 4th place. Sean is on a roll. I would consider him a "Poke Master." Maybe we gotta test his mastery in a 2nd round of shoyu poke blind taste testing.
  • My Uncle Shag get one mean poke palette as he recommended our #1 ranked shoyu poke from JJ Seafood. I think all those years of beer and pupus developed his expert poke palette.
  • Another up and coming "Poke Master" might be my nephew Jacob as he recommended our #2 ranked shoyu poke from Costco. I'd like to see what other grinds he likes and see if it does well in a WOW Grinds blind taste test. Good job Jacob!
  • The Honolulu Advertiser readers who voted Foodland poke 2nd place in 2008 seem to have hit a near bullseye as they placed 3rd place in our WOW Grinds blind taste test.
  • But they seemed way off base with naming Tanioka's 1st place poke in the 2008 Honolulu Advertiser People's Choice Awards, cause they came in last place in our WOW Grinds blind taste test. Maybe Tanioka's had an off day and need a rematch.

And what kind of insights emerged about our love for shoyu poke?
  • The size of the fish cut seems important. The #1 ranked JJ Seafood had slightly smaller cubes of fish than all the others. This made for a more even balance of fish to sauce in the mouth. Some of the lower ranked places, had pretty large cubes of fish so get plenty fish taste and little sauce so was like eating just raw fish. That isn't a bad thing if you was expecting to eat sashimi, but if you expecting shoyu poke flavor in the mouth, then small kine throw you off.
  • The quality of the fish did not seem as important to our judge's cause the 2nd place Costco poke had plenty sugi in their meat. And then, the 3rd place Foodland was previously frozen so never taste as fresh. Basically all the fish seemed average to above average quality. Some places like Keeaumoku Seafood seemed to have high quality sugi-less fish and was red red fresh, but didn't seem to matter as it never beat Costco or Foodland who seemed to have lesser quality fish.
  • The texture of the poke was a key factor for the judges. There were comments that some of the poke lost points as it seemed slimey in the mouth as if it was sitting in the sauce for long time.  The judges also made comments about the fish being "too soft" or "mushy" which lowered their scores.
  • The flavor of the sauce seemed to be a key factor to the judges even more so than the quality of the fish. The top 5 pokes seemed to have flavorful sauce, but wasn't over powering the fish taste. I think the judges made particular mention of the good flavor of the Costco shoyu poke. I heard that COSTCO...they make their own shoyu poke from a "corporate recipe" that was developed locally. The secret of the recipe, according to what I heard is, instead of using plain shoyu, they use kalbi flavored shoyu. Not sure how true this is...maybe my source was BSing me. Go try ask them and see if they tell you one different story.

In conclusion, we think JJ Seafood came out on top because they had the triple threat of 1-High Quality Sugi-Free Fish; 2-Smaller Size Uniform Cuts of Fish; and 3-Good Flavorful Sauce. Also, JJ does an interesting thing when you buy the shoyu poke...they give you the fish mixed with all the poke ingredients except the shoyu sauce which they give you in a separate container. Then the guy told me "you pour the shoyu sauce on top just before eating." No other place employed this technique. With the triple threat combination and the last moment shoyu sauce technique, JJ Seafood might be an unstoppable force in the world of competitive shoyu poke tasting.

Like we always say, we are making only our best guesses about what these results might tell us about our love of shoyu poke. We encourage you to go out and try for yourself and form your own opinions. If you get other insights or opinions, create an account and/or login, then leave a comment.