On Island Time: Poi Dog Reviewed

The Hawaiian vibe is strong at Poi Dog's new brick and mortar location.

Until recently, Philly had only one real option when it came to Hawaiian food: the Poi Dog truck run by partners Kiki Aranita and Chris Vacca. But now there’s also … well, now there’s the Poi Dog brick-and-mortar location, also opened by Aranita and Vacca.


Poi Dog

102 South 21st Street, Center City

CUISINE: Hawaiian


SNAP JUDGMENT: Cheap, fast, fun and as casual as flip-flops in church, the new Poi Dog is perfect for an edible quick trip to the islands.

RECOMMENDED: Come here to learn the joys of musubi and plate lunches, but don’t skip the poke, or the andagi for dessert.

The good thing? They’ve got that whole Hawaiian vibe down. The space is bright, simple and comfortable, done up in bright colors and outfitted with precisely the kind of cheap disposable silverware you’re supposed to use to eat a massive plate lunch of Filipino-style adobo with atchara (pickled unripe papaya) or Japanese furikake-spiced fried chicken with togarishi mayo and big scoops of rice from a takeout container.

You order from the counter, Chipotle-style, while ukulele music plays and the kitchen crew burns through the lunch rush. The menu is compact but hits all the highlights—poke over rice with sriracha mayo and masago, chicken long rice (served over noodles, get it?), loco moco, and dirt-cheap Spam musubi—the ideal fast-casual snack for those who don’t look down their noses at the king of canned meats.

The portions are big, and the staff is friendly. If you can manage it, save room for something from the surprisingly long dessert menu, like the Okinawan andagi—little fried dough balls that pass for doughnuts in distant places that lack Krispy Kremes on every corner.

Published in the June 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Poi Dog [Official]

Rating Key
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country