“We have some of the most appreciative, happy, and loyal food fam. We love them and are super thankful we get to see them every week.”
Everybody knows that Yelp is stupid, even evil. Still, it’s pretty cool that of the thousands of restaurants listed on the platform, Manoa Poke on Beacon Street in Somerville recently clocked in at number 100 on their list of the “100 best restaurants in New England.“
And, as they put it, “Even more impressive is that this shop is only open to the public for 12 hours each week.”
“We make almost all of what we offer from scratch,” GM/Owner-Partner Jacob Afoa said in a statement. “Right now, we’re only four guys in the shop, so that means working about 160 hours between us every week. … We love it. We love the area. We love making people happy.”
Some more background …
Manoa opened in November 2016, the brainchild of Owner-Partner Josiah Bonsey, who grew up in the Manoa valley of Hawaii. As fate would have it, Jacob first met Josiah as a ride-share driver while Bonsey was scouting locations for the shop.
Over the years, Manoa has tried to fit the standard mainland image of poke involving mix-ins, sauces, and ingredients such as avocado – none of which are traditional. For a while, the business struggled. The team tried various approaches, and it was closed to the public for a time, only operating as a catering business.
But then they took the unusual tack of cutting their hours, allowing for greater focus. Jacob and his cousin Sonny also gave the shop a more traditional bent. They have returned to a more traditional style of poke, nearly all of which is made weekly by just one person, Sonny. They’ve also added a few Samoan touches to the menu, reflecting their family heritage.
These days, they report that “Current Chef, CIA-trained, and JK Food Group alum Hieuy Troung has also managed to bring his unique flair to the menu … with sophisticated specials and constant menu additions such as Filipino-inspired lumpia.” That while “Jack, another JK Food Group alum, has worked as a baker, server, and manager at several high-profile restaurants in the Boston area and is literally their Jack-of-all-trades behind the scenes.”
“The core of our business lies in the quote from Rev. Abraham Kahu Akaka at the bottom of every receipt,” Afoa said. “’Aloha seeks to do good. With no conditions attached.'”
“This ranking is all thanks to our customers,” Jacob added. “We have some of the most appreciative, happy, and loyal food fam. We love them and are super thankful we get to see them every week.”