food businesses

Get 4 kinds of poke in one platter from this Parañaque shop

Steph Arnaldo
Get 4 kinds of poke in one platter from this Parañaque shop

Photo from Momona Loa's Instagram page

Who's up for a poke party? Momona Loa serves their own take on the Hawaiian classic in 6 flavors.

Poke, the Hawaiian staple of diced raw yellowfin (ahi) tuna, is typically marinated in a variety of oils, sauces, spices, and seasonings, mixed with pickled and fresh ingredients, and other toppings.

The tuna is usually served cold on top of moist, short grain rice, resulting in the filling and fresh Hawaiian-style poke bowl, which Parañaque-based home shop Momona Loa specializes in. They serve 6 kinds of homemade poke in assorted group platters, as tacos, or even as tostadas.

From Hawaii to the Philippines

Momona Loa started in 2020, due to a lot of things – too much time on their hands due to the lockdown, a family’s personal connection to the Hawaiian dish, and encouragement from their peers.

“Hawaii has always been our favorite place to go on vacations, so we always look forward to eating poke when we’re there. We started playing around with recipes, posting it on our personal feeds, and family and friends wanted to try, so we sent them some, and they actually encouraged us to sell it online,” Momona Loa told Rappler.

What started as just a mother-daughter bonding activity grew to be a neighborhood sensation within the BFHomesSarap Facebook community, until it eventually ganed popularity outside of Parañaque City. Word of mouth swiftly spread, and soon, Momona Loa began accepting bulk orders from all over Metro Manila.

Poke party time

Most local restaurants usually serve poke in individual bowls. However, Momona Loa knew they wanted to serve the dish in both traditional and non-traditional flavors and in “fun and different ways” to cater to different palates. This includes their Mexican-inspired crunchy poke tacos, their crispy, open-faced poke tostadas, and their assorted group platters..

“To serve big groups (10-12 pax), we only offered the Party Pack size which only came in one flavor, but customers would always ask if we could combine 2 flavors in one party pack,” they said.

“Since there were a lot of requests, we tried to look for another option to stay flexible. We came up with the 4-in-1 platter to give customers the option to choose any 4 flavors from the 6 that we offer.”

The poke works: Ingredients, flavors

Momona Loa’s poke is as premium as they come – the hefty cubes of fresh ahi tuna loin they use are tender, clean, and soft, with no fishy aftertaste or chewy connective tissue. The serving sizes alone already provide bang for your buck.

Their 6 poke flavors include shoyu, garlic shoyu, spicy tuna, toasted sesame, aioli crunch, and Thai-style.

“Our base flavors are soy sauce and sesame oil. The saltiness of the soy sauce preserves the freshness of the tuna. Then we add the sauces, which are either mayo-based or soy-based,” they said.

The mayo-based flavors are the spicy tuna, toasted sesame, and aioli crunch. For fans of creamy spicy sashimi salads, these flavors are your best bet. The fiery spicy tuna is enveloped in a savory-spicy sriracha mayo blend, coated in chili powder for extra heat. It’s topped with tempura bits, leeks, and fish roe for a welcome crunch.

If you prefer a more subdued savory flavor, the Asian-inspired toasted sesame is recommended, especially if you enjoy the nutty, toasted taste of sesame oil and seeds (I did)! It’s topped with sesame seeds and leeks.

Momona Loa’s soy-based flavors are the shoyu and garlic shoyu. Shoyu is their most “traditional take,” and keeps things simple and salty with their soy marinade. Since the sauce is light, you may taste more of the tuna here (I personally would’ve liked a bit more acidity to balance the saltiness).

If you want a punch of garlic and a bit more spice in there, try the garlic shoyu, which incorporates some mayo, fresh garlic bits, salty soy sauce, and leeks in the mix.

Their Thai-style poke is also a goodie – it features Thai ingredients like fish sauce, coriander, lime, fresh onions, peanuts, and chili. This was the most refreshing and tangy variant, thanks to the brightness and acidity of the lime juice and the coriander. This poke flavor is what’s solely used for their home-baked, seasoned tostadas.

Momona Loa’s poke platters come with a generous side serving of nori strips and sesame seeds in the center. They’re meant to be sprinkled onto the moist rice provided, for added flavor and texture.

It’s an appetizing dish worth trying out at home with family, especially if the gang is a fan of poke and willing to try new variations of the raw dish. It’s also a fun, interactive, dining experience – the tacos are DIY style, and how you build your own poke bowl or tostada is really up to you. Plus, you’re getting premium quality tuna with each flavorful, chunky bite.

Momona Loa’s 4-in-1 customizable poke platter costs P1,400 – a good price to pay for the amount of poke you’re getting. The individual poke flavors can be ordered in small tub, big tub, or party pack sizes. The shoyu costs P300, P550, or P1,350, while the spicy tuna, aioli crunch, garlic shoyu, and toasted sesame cost P320, P580, and P1,400.

Momona Loa is based in BF Homes, Parañaque City. Cut-off for orders is at 4 pm, with deliveries done the next day. You can place your orders via their Instagram page. – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.