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Poké is a feast for the eyes and stomach. Source: Jackie L. Chan

Hawaiian Food Says Aloha to Malaysia

Malaysia is finally catching on to the food trend that has been taking American cuisine by storm, the Hawaiian . Pronounced ‘poh-keh’, this traditional Hawaiian dish consists of a rice bowl topped with marinated, raw seafood and various garnishes. The first poké shop in Malaysia, , opened in Petaling Jaya outside Kuala Lumpur last year, providing Malaysians with healthy alternatives to fast food. Since then, there have been in the Klang Valley dedicated to serving this Hawaiian dish. With poké making a mark on Malaysia’s food scene, locals are being introduced to Hawai’i’s cultural heritage through the variety of influences that inspired this dish.

Hawai’i is one of the of the United States, and this melting pot characteristic has contributed to the flavors and vibrancy of poké. Enjoying raw reef fish and rice, whether cured in citrus juices or not, has been a staple of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultures for centuries. Honolulu-based even claims that the dish existed before Captain Cook’s arrival. The use of deep sea fish marinated in soy sauce was influenced by the Japanese, who began immigrating to Hawai’i . Poké bowl toppings such as sriracha, chili flakes, green onions, mangoes, avocados and others can be attributed to the influences of the across the United States. Each bite is a taste of all the years of Hawaiian history that made poké what it is today. Malaysian restaurants, like Kuala Lumpur-based , are even making poké their own by catering to local .

US-Malaysia relations date when US merchants traded at several Malaysia ports. However, the United States officially established diplomatic relations with the country in , following its independence from the United Kingdom. According to the latest available data, Malaysia ranks in the top 10 sources of imports for the state of Hawai’i. Consequently, the appeal of Hawaiian cuisine is not limited to Malaysia but has also attracted the .

Karen Amethyst Mascariñas is Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC and is a graduate student at American University.

This article was originally published on April 27, 2017 on

Asia Matters for America

This initiative maps the trade, investment, employment…

East-West Center in Washington, DC

Written by

The EWCW enhances US engagement and dialogue with the Indo-Pacific region through programs, policy relevant research, publications and outreach activities.

Asia Matters for America

This initiative maps the trade, investment, employment, business, diplomacy, security, education, tourism, and people-to-people connections between the United States and the Indo-Pacific at the national, state, and local levels.

East-West Center in Washington, DC

Written by

The EWCW enhances US engagement and dialogue with the Indo-Pacific region through programs, policy relevant research, publications and outreach activities.

Asia Matters for America

This initiative maps the trade, investment, employment, business, diplomacy, security, education, tourism, and people-to-people connections between the United States and the Indo-Pacific at the national, state, and local levels.

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