It was a rainy Friday afternoon, when I finally got off from work. It had been an exhausting day with a lunch shift serving hundreds of hungry anonymous people who came and went as the day got older. My phone beeped with a text from my friend, we had planned to have an early dinner together and I was just thrilled to finally be seated and eat comfort food and relax for the rest of the night. The restaurant we had booked a table at is located in one of the many corners of Punavuori, a great area to stroll around in and discover new places—restaurants, cafés or small shops. That was how my friend had discovered this tiny restaurant in the corner between Albertinkatu and Merimiehenkatu on her way to work.
The place is called Hoku, a Hawiian restaurant; although the sound of it made me think it was yet another Japanese restaurant. Since sushi is a huge trend here in Helsinki at the moment, a lot of new sushi restaurants have popped up in the city. Hawaiian cuisine in Helsinki sounded a lot rarer to me and I was excited to test it out.
Hoku is relatively small for a restaurant, they have about 20+ seats and about 6 tables (if I counted right) and the interior is very calming and the overall setting very neat, modern and simple—nothing very innovative, however, a great way to invite the diners attention towards the food instead.
As I observed the menu I was taken aback at how much Japanese and Asian influences they have and I was pretty curious and confused until I realized that the State of Hawaii has strong Asian influences due to immigration throughout history.
A lot of Japanese, Filipino, Chinese and other nationality settled to Hawaii during and after the war, so I shouldn’t have been surprised about the influence of Asian cuisine. However, I was happy to see that Hoku’s menu consists of carefully chosen dishes, with many different tastes and flavors, including a popular Hawaiian dish, served with a twist!
Loco Moco is one of those weird surprising combinations I’ve never tasted before — in a good way. Loco Moco is traditionally served with rice topped with a Hamburger Patty. Then you cover it with gravy and serve it with an egg, sunny side up, which makes it a very simple dish with very soft flavors and simple ingredients. (Am I the only one who imagines this dish to be a great Hangover food? No? Yes? Okay. Moving on!)
Hoku, however, didn’t stop there but gave it a little bit more “umphff” (meaning a twist) by adding forest mushrooms to their brown sauce and a few slices of slightly fried Foie Gras, and boy it was delish! For me it was something I would certainly eat every day.
The price-food-ratio is just almost about to meet its right level, although I would say their rice dishes can run a tiny bit expensive, but for a small restaurant like that, it is reasonable. Their presentation was good as well and their other reviews are generally strong especially regarding their lunches, which I still have to try out. However, I have tasted a few of their other dishes and everything was great! I must say that Hoku, although very new considering it only opened March this year, gave a good impression. The owner is from Hawaii himself, so I trust I’m getting an honest Hawaiian food experience and I would certainly dine there again in future!
Note: Since the restaurant is small I would suggest an advance booking. I bet Hoku gets full rather quickly.
Info: www.hoku.fi and it is located at Merimiehenkatu 18 and through their website you can find more
information about their booking procedures.
Check out more pictures on Evan’s blog, it is guaranteed to make your mouth water. Visit: http://evankristine.blogspot.fi/2012/06/bits-of-helsinki-food-porn-and-such.html