Finding a good, quick and healthy lunch spot in and around Soho can often be a bit of a challenge. Then, once you find those two or three spots that tick all the boxes, you find yourself alternating between them and getting incredibly bored. At times like these, move away from those cardboard salad boxes where meat or fish are never on the menu, and try Pololi.
Pololi, which means ‘hungry’ in Hawaiian, is a cute little takeaway spot on Graham Street that serves traditional Hawaiian poke (pronounced ‘po-kay’) – basically rice and/or salad topped with fresh marinated raw tuna.
The brightly painted space is lively and welcoming, with a vibe that is definitely in line with the tropical island of Hawaii, complete with colourful leis, surfboards and even a ukulele.
If you’ve never been to Pololi before, one of the friendly owners will allow you to taste all the different varieties of tuna, of which there are around eight, as well as a couple of vegetarian options. You then choose whether you would like white or brown rice, salad, or half-salad half-rice, topped with your choice of two proteins. If you get there early enough, you can grab one of the four bar stools, otherwise it’s a quick grab and go situation.
Our favourites were the ginger shoyu ahi, the spicy mayo ahi (with a fiery sriracha dressing) and the wasabi mayo ahi, although the Korean tako (octopus) was also pretty tasty.
I loved the freshness of the tuna, which needed little more than a light marinade and made us feel incredibly healthy. We also couldn’t resist trying a poke patty, a sort of little tuna burger patty, which was absolutely delicious.
It seemed strange to me that the rice was served hot, alongside cold salad leaves and raw tuna; I know this isn’t a Japanese restaurant, but I was kind of expecting cold sushi rice alongside my raw fish. The rice and salad were also a little plain and could have done with a drizzle of ginger soy sauce to liven them up, since somehow the offer of balsamic dressing for the salad didn’t seem quite right.
A bowl of poke costs $90, and an extra $10 for a poke patty. This is of course more expensive than one of those cardboard salad boxes, but it’s certainly not a high price to pay for delicious sashimi-grade tuna in a fun setting. This might just be one of my new favourite lunch spots in Central.
35-39 Graham Street
Tel: +852 2755 8099
Closed on Sundays