It isn’t often that one gets to witness the birth of a true gastronomical wonder; an incredibly popular culinary dish that can be dressed up and dressed down, such as pizza. A food that spreads like wildfire, causing everyone to take notice. Yet, that is exactly what has happened in the past decade with Hawaii’s poke dish, and one of the best places to see just why this island cuisine has spread so rapidly across the mainland is to visit an authentic local’s joint like the South Maui Fish Company.
The South Maui Fish Company is a bustling little food truck operation that was the brainchild of fisherman Hunter Betts. Betts wanted to build up a wonderful local food operation that took locally caught fish and transformed them into delicious, affordable culinary delights. And succeed he did in that! Serving out food in a truck has enabled South Maui Fish Company to keep overhead costs down without compromising the quality of seafood they get from local fishing outfits, for whom they pay fairly. Such an operation is one of the ways in which Hawaii enjoys a sustainable fishing industry.
As mentioned above, one of the dishes that has really propelled the South Maui Fish Company forward (and with their being in business for six years now) has been poke. Poke as a Hawaiian dish technically started being sold back in the 1970ss, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the delicious meal’s popularity exploded both in Hawaii and on the mainland. Today, you can buy poke dishes in just about every major United States and Canadian city, but truly no one serves it up quite like a local outfit like the South Maui Fish Company does.
The term poke is used to describe a meal consisting primarily of lightly seared or even raw fish that is gutted, skinned, deponed, and tossed in a special marinade. Most poke dishes will come served in a bowl with traditional Hawaiian condiments like seaweed, candlenut, and sea salt. What fish you can order as the main part of your poke bowl at the South Maui Fish Company will depend upon what is in season. The seafood headliners here change regularly with the tide, but the one thing you can always expect is that you are going to get the freshest sea fare with your order.
When ordering poke at South Maui Food Company, you will be able to order by the bowl, as a bento, or even by the pound. They have about fifteen different poke flavors that are separated into “Traditional” (ie Sweet Onion and Shoyu Marinade) and “Spicy” (ie Wasabi Seeds and Spicy Aioli).
Other regular menu items at South Maui Food Company include fish tacos, grilled fish plate, fish bento, a kid-sized hot dog, and a variety of spices that include their popular Veggie Mac Salad.
While the South Maui Food Company does operate out of a food truck, that food truck is pretty stationary (although they have moved operations throughout the years). Today, you will find the South Maui Food Company food truck set up at the Aloha Open Air Market. This is a bustling market that boasts a myriad of more tourist-minded businesses, such as a moped rental and bi-weekly arts and crafts market featuring the best in local wares.
If you don’t mind a good crowd, the best time to go to the Aloha Open Air Market (and thereby grab a bowl of hot and fresh poke at the South Maui Fish Company) is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. That’s because these are the days the bi-weekly Rowena local farmer’s market is set up. That farmers market is a fantastic place to get fresh local product and bring home cute and true Hawaiian-made gifts and trinkets.