Five Places to Eat Poke

Eat creative versions of this trendy Hawaiian dish in Los Angeles, Chicago, Hamilton, Toronto and New York City

Mainland Poke Shop, photo by Mary Costa

A Hawaiian dish traditionally comprised of cubed, raw fish dressed in soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion and an assortment of chili peppers, poke (pronounced poh-kay), is having a menu moment across North America. Here are five places to get a taste.

Mainland Poke Shop, Los Angeles

Sushi-grade fresh fish is the mainstay at this lunch spot. One of its signature bowls, the Ichiban, features albacore tuna, ponzu, wasabi aioli, pickled ginger, scallions, tobiko and red alaea sea salt over brown rice or kale and is a firm favourite among health-conscious Angelenos.

Pokeh, Hamilton, Ont.

On the lower level of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market you’ll find Pokeh, the self-proclaimed “first poke bar in Canada.” Husband-and-wife owners Salar Madadi and Jeannie Crawford tried poke in California and fell for its bold, fresh flavours. Try their traditional tuna poke or exceptional vegan version featuring pickled shiitake, tofu, cucumber noodles and more.

Big & Little’s Restaurant, Chicago

Poke gets a Mexican makeover in three “poke tacos”: sashimi-grade, raw ahi tuna, salmon or steamed blue crab served on a hard-shell corn tortilla dressed with chili aioli sauce or soy-based “Samurai” sauce.

Calii Love, Toronto

Joe Friday, the chef at Calii Love, lived in Hawaii for four years and forged a deep appreciation for the state’s culinary traditions. “Try the Humble Bowl,” he says. “It reminds me most of Hawaii.” Comprised of diced tuna, wakame, shoyu and sweet onions over white rice with a drizzle of wasabi aioli, the dish is light, bright and packed with layers of flavour. And the fish is sustainable and delivered twice daily for peak freshness.

Pokéworks, New York City

Sustainable fish is the mainstay at this NYC poke shop. Ahi features broadly in various iterations, like the Hawaiian Classic with green and sweet onion, ogo seaweed, sesame seeds, cucumber, Hawaiian salt and chili flakes. But, if you’ve got a hankering for something different, the wasabi shrimp and scallops bowl offers seared seafood that’s gently cooked sous vide.

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