COURTESY HUKILAU SAN FRANCISCO
Contestants were put to the Spam musubi test at Hukilau restaurant last year in San Francisco. Visible is defending king - appropriate in a crown - Jeff "Hammer" Cortez, left photo.
Expats imperil local poke pride
The smack-talk is being thrown down because poke time is drawing nigh.
That is, poke, (poh-keh), the dish commonly made from cubed raw fish and other in-gree-da-ments such as ogo (a type of seaweed), shoyu (soy sauce), inamona (roasted kukui nuts) and-or oddah good-kine stuffs.
The annual Sam Choy Poke Contest isn't until October, but the deadline is looming for the preliminary on Sept. 6 - the seventh annual Sam Choy Aloha Shoyu Poke Festival and Spam Musubi Eating Contest at the Hukilau restaurant in San Francisco.
If you are new to TheBuzz, Hukilau was started by three expat local boys in Northern California who missed plate lunches, kanikapila and sitting on upside-down shoyu buckets while sucking 'em up.
They have expanded to three locations and the newest is in downtown Honolulu.
Co-owner Eric Tao's gauntlet was thusly swatted across the Pacific: "This year, the mainland winner will be giving the Hawaii (contestants) a major beat-down." He predicted victory.
Ho, Hilo boy, oh no you di'ent!
There is a bit of a precedent. An earlier SFO winner, Sam Kong Kee, has been a repeat winner there and here, but he's back living in Hawaii now so Hukilau won't have him up its sleeve.
As in previous years, the NorCal winner will be flown here by Hukilau, Aloha Shoyu Co. Ltd. and other sponsors for the Oct. 11 Sam Choy Poke Contest at Turtle Bay Resort, part of its annual Seafood Festival.
Aloha Shoyu also helped a Las Vegas winner participate last year, but that won't be the case this time. "Hopefully things change next year," said Senior Vice President John Tsukada.
Spam musubi contestants need not be professional competitive eaters.
"Our prizes aren't big enough," Tao said. But you could win one tela-vee-zhen.
A TV and cash prize as well as getting one's name on the perpetual Spam musubi contest plaque have been the traditional rewards for the pink-pork-product pig-out, Tao said.
The bar is high, however.
Reigning king Jeff "Hammer" Cortez is the record holder, consuming 12 orders in three minutes, the equivalent of two cans of Spam and five bowls of rice.
Though he has won five times, NorCal folk wanting to test their mettle in either contest have until Monday to enter online.
Braddahs and seestahs who like represent da home turf can register for the local Sam Choy Poke Contest online starting next week.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org