I can’t believe I never knew about Tanioka’s prior to 2011. Embarassing to admit, since it’s an institution out in Waipahu. It’s an institution, but yet they’ve modernized so well. When you go on a weekend, you know it’s going to be crowded. But they’ve perfected crowd management to a science. There’s a guy at the door, who only lets so many people in at a time. Once you’re in (air conditioning, thank goodness) the line snakes around: first past the cookies & crack seed, then you start getting to the good stuff. There’s 2 fridge cases with sushi, prepacked goodies, cupcakes, boiled peanuts, etc. After you get past the fridge cases, you get to the main event: the poke deli case. Unbelievable how many kinds of poke they have there (plus I always see menu items – I guess you can also order plate lunch stuff too? But I always am too distracted by the poke).
Once you’ve given your poke order, you move onto the final she-bang: the musubi and fish cake / other stuff window. And here’s the awesome kicker: your poke order very neatly follows you, and you can just stack up whatever musubi / bento / andagi you want to add, and it all follows you neatly to the cash register. Like magic.
One day I was in with a friend who was taking pictures of the store – they thought we were tourists? And we got some free fried poke with wasabi aioli. So good.
And what better place to eat lunch than on the beach in Nanakuli?
Waipahu, HI 96797 (808) 671-3779