As part of my decision to travel somewhere every month since September 2016, I went with three girlfriends for a week on the Island of Maui, Hawaii, in late January 2017. These are the photos and tales of my Hawaii adventures + my recommendation for recreating that authentic poke bowl experience in Kamehameha, Montreal.
The endless sky is a palette of blue that bleeds into the green-blue ocean below. The sand is black and oily, like millions of grains of the most priceless sturgeon caviar one could ever imagine. The wind is salty and warm, a strong gale that whips at the hair one minute, and strokes your cheeks the next. Raw, juicy chunks of tuna so fresh, so cold that they taste like the sea fill a poke bowl . A giant avocado that comes apart in my hands, while still tasting like it had just fallen off the tree in the perfect moment of ripeness. These are the things I remember most vividly from my trip to Maui, Hawaii.
Nearly eight months later, and I still dream about Hawaii and all that it signified in my life – freedom, sunshine, joy, female friendship, exploration, introspection. My trip to Maui came in late January, booked on a whim in November, spurred by the peculiar mix of depression and the euphoria of self-discovery that the break-up of my five-year relationship brought into my life. The trip itself took place in what turned out to be the end of another relationship – a short-lived, turbulent affair that brought as much ecstasy as it did disillusionment. I spent my days in Hawaii alternating between crippling anxiety and utter elatedness, feeling like a rat caught on a Ferris Wheel, never quite sure which way was up and which way was down.
Which fit the mix of the endless blue sky and the green-blue ocean just fine.
I have been seeking to recreate that sensation of freedom the best way I know how – through food. In the midst of the poké bowl boom of 2017, I have scoured Montreal’s poké restaurants, trying the variety of flavours and proteins on offer at each one.
Kamehameha Snack-Bar, which opened in July, was a standout for its variety of dishes. Its poké bowls are diverse, ranging from fully vegan to a three-fish tartare, all named after some of the most beautiful spots in Hawaii: Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, and Sunset Beach. They come into two sizes – a snack one meant for light eaters, or a large one for sharing (or eating all on your own, if you’re really hungry). Several bowls are gluten-free, a big selling point for this girl.
The spam musubi, a sushi-like take on Hawaii’s most questionable food, looked beautiful in its neat little packages. The décor, an island version of a bubblegum-pink 1980s nirvana, makes you feel like you’re stuck in some kooky old-timey movie (and for anyone who’s stayed at one of Maui’s two mid-price hotels, like a blast from the Hawaii-printed entry rooms).
But most people come to Kamehameha, Montreal for the ice cream. Taiyaki, the fish-shaped cone known throughout the islands, became an Instagram hit when news first hit of its availability in Montreal. Filled with a changing range of ice cream flavours (some vegan, some not), this adorable treat tastes like good quality custard – and looks totally #instaready.
Though Kamehameha did not make me forget that I was in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village, it did succeed in momentarily transporting me to one of Hawaii’s hip new eateries that celebrate the foods of the islands, instead of hiding behind imported goods and fancy Italian dishes.
Next time you’re looking for a good ol’ poké bowl, I suggest you give Kamehameha, Montreal a try.
Full disclosure: I was invited to check out Kamehameha, Montreal soon after its opening along with a host of other Montreal-based food blogger. I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own; you can always expect me to be honest with you guys!