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I think that Hawaiian food, or any of the similar cuisines from the Pacific Rim, is one of the most random, inventive, and interesting culinary traditions there is. There is just something incredibly charming about a cuisine that embraces Spam and sushi-grade raw tuna with equal affection.

Held at the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island, the I Love Poke festival will center around a contest between local chefs from Kitchen 4140, Saltbox, and Sea Rocket Bistro, to name a few. The challenge is to make the best poke, which is a salad of raw yellowfin tuna seasoned with salt, seaweed, and kukui nuts. Poke is common at sushi restaurants, having been borrowed from Hawaiian cuisine during the worldwide sushi explosion of the 1980's, and many an upscale version of the dish has graced the menus of fine restaurants. Who in San Diego will make the best poke? Find out on May 30th.

Ticketholders will be entitled to try a taste of each submission to the poke contest. Access will also be granted to free eats form local restaurants and some of the major purveyors of Hawaiian food. Gabardine will be there, as will Cups, so count on some killer seafood nibbles cupcake bites at the very least!

Tickets are $50 each, which seems a bit steep, but enterprising grazers can actually get their hands on a plethora of small bites at events like this. Plus, a small portion of the proceeds will be going to benefit the Kona-California Scholarship Fund, which helps pay for Hawaiian youth to educate themselves on the mainland.

Visit www.ilovemusubi.com for information, tickets, and all things Hawaiian.

Edit: as of 5/14 I have found out that Sea Rocket Bistro will not be taking part in the festival.

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