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Hukilau Restaurant: A Little Bit of Hawaii on Geary

So the other day I went to check out Hukilau, that rather nondescript yet somehow noticeable little restaurant on the corner at the big intersection of Masonic and Geary. I'd been wondering about it for a long time and, as one of its bartenders, Kimmie, has come into Cantina (where I sometimes tend bar), I decided to see what it was all about.

What it's all about is Hawaiian culture, which I don't know much about. But I saw enough Hawaiian expats come and go, meeting each other at the bar ("what island are you from?"), to tell that it's authentic enough to be a home away from home. As for my tastes …  I don't know. I so wanted to have a cocktail, but the entire menu and back bar was so deep into flavored vodkas, Midori, Malibu, blue curacao and other sweet liquors that I just couldn't pull the trigger. Instead I had a Kona beer, from Hawaii, which was just fine.

But I very much enjoyed the food at the bar. In particular, the spicy, luscious ahi poke (above)--a salad of cubed raw tuna tossed with sesame oil, seaweed and onions--was addictive. I also tried the Spam musubi (below), grilled Spam wrapped inside rice and nori like sushi. One piece of that was plenty, though it wasn't at all bad.

Either way, I'd go back to Hukilau for the beer, the poke, and the very kind servers, who had obviously found a little piece of home, ironically, on the cold wind tunnel of Geary Street.