Kiki Aranita is the co-owner and co-operator of Poi Dog Snack Shop, a casual spot in Rittenhouse that serves Hawaii-style lunch plates, fresh ahi poke, musubi, snacks and mochi. We get to know her in 20 questions!
1. What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
My emails, with one eye open, squinting at my phone before I put my glasses on.
2. What was your first job?
I did voiceovers for talking toys, alarm clocks and exercise machines manufactured in Hong Kong. It was a completely random series of jobs that my ballet teacher procured for me, based on my speaking clear, not very regionally-accented English.
3. Who has influenced your career?
Chris Vacca, the poi to my dog.
4. If you weren’t a ______ what would you be?
A food trucker/restaurant owner/jill-of-all-trades? I studied and taught Classics (Latin, Greek and classical literature), so I might be still an adjunct somewhere (but hopefully not).
5. What are 3 qualities that have helped you in your career?
Ambition, the ability to paint passably, and a willingness to figure things out.
6. Favorite perk of the job?
Free poke and being part of really cool events.
7. What’s the worst part of the job?
No call, no shows.
8. Change you’d like to see in your industry?
I’d like to see a better understanding and acceptance of underrepresented cuisines.
9. How do you unwind after a bad day?
10. What is your favorite ritual?
Someone else, anyone else, making me a home-cooked meal.
11. Who would you most want to meet?
12. When do you feel the freest?
Bodyboarding, but not bodyboarding after talking to my Aunty Myra, who knows the stats of drownings and paraplegics for every beach on the southeastern side of Oahu in the winter.
13. Do you trust where life is taking you?
14. How much risk do you like taking?
A measured, very carefully considered amount of risk.
15. What do you do in your downtime?
I don’t have downtime. When I used to have downtime, I wrote about food, every now and then, someone asks me for a recipe or a story and I love that.
16. Who’d you invite to a fantasy dinner party? Anyone dead or alive.
Hitler, Pol Pot, other arbiters of mass genocide, then I would poison them.
17. When do you get nervous?
Before going on stage.
18. What would you like to leave behind once you’re gone?
A retelling of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” set in Hawaii, a cool epitaph, and talking toys manufactured in Hong Kong, circa 2002.
19. What do you think about Love/Aloha?
Aloha is the impetus behind much of what I do now.
20. What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment?
Coconut Awapuhi Aranita, the cutest dog in the whole world. Does anyone need a dog model?