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Hawaii Chef’s Choice: Favorite ahi poke and Portuguese Bean Soup recipes

Chef's Choice: Favorite Hawaii Comfort Foods

Vikram Garg

Executive Chef, Halekulani
Born and raised: Andaman Nicobar Islands, India


Ahi Poke

“Visually, it looked like a dish where, unconsciously, your chopsticks would go to it,” says Garg, of his first encounter with ahi poke, on an Oahu visit as a Halekulani guest chef in 2006. “When I had my first bite, it was like fish candy to me. The combination of flavors—a little bit of shoyu, raw onion, ginger, sesame, the ocean aroma of ogo (a type of seaweed)—it was mind blowing. I just fell in love.”

A few years later, as Halekulani’s executive chef, Garg challenged his kitchen staff to make him a great poke. “And one guy walks up and says, ‘You know what, Chef? I’m gonna make you a real Hawaiian poke.’” From that moment on, Randall Kolomona Kaaloa’s ahi poke was Garg’s favorite. Taste is one big reason.

“But there’s a love he puts in there. He’s absolutely passionate about it,” says Garg, of the soft-spoken cook (pictured, left). “I usually have it late in the evening in the kitchen. If he sees me walking around, nibbling, he’ll say, ‘You hungry, Chef? I’ll make it for you.’ He knows.”

How to make Randall Kolomona Kaaloa’s ‘ahi poke:


1 lb.            fresh ahi, cut into cubes
½ oz.          ogo, chopped
4 oz.           Maui onion, julienned
1 oz.           green onion, chopped
½ tsp.         fresh ginger, chopped fine
1-2 pc.        Hawaiian chili peppers, chopped fine
¼ tsp.         toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp        shoyu (soy sauce)
To taste      Hawaiian sea salt


Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, combine thoroughly, and serve with taro chips.

Recipe serves: 4

Enjoy Chef Vikram’s cooking at: Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kālia Road, Honolulu, O‘ahu, (808) 923-2311, www.halekulani.com

To subscribe to HAWAII Magazine, click here.

Photos: Olivier Koning

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