Think you’re up with the latest food trends? If so, you may have heard of the poke bowl then? Remember when everyone was raving over falafels, or how about take away gourmet salads with quinoa and dried super fruits. All of these food trends had one thing in common and that was, they were all convenience options for those that lacked time to prepare healthy meals but still wanted a nutritionally balanced diet while on the go.
Fast food, convenience food, what have you has definitely taken on more meaning in the last years, and with so many more people conscious of what they put in their bodies, they are seeking options that aren’t only tasty, dynamic and customizable but health focused as well. Long gone are the days when the only healthy option you had was the store bought ready made salad or the energy bar, packed full of all your day’s calories. The newest trend in healthy fast food, and one that has been around for a while but only recently receiving the recognition it deserves, is the Poke Bowl. Yes, that’s right, we did say Poke Bowl, and no it’s not a mean trick you play with your mates out on the field. Let us introduce you to what’s the new talk of the town and stealing the stomachs of many sushi lovers, pescatarians and foodies alike.
What is a Poke Bowl?
Pronounced poh-kay, this Hawaiian derived salad with pieces of marinated raw fish is served with a variety of accompaniments such as sea salt, roasted kukui nuts, and nori. Poke was traditionally prepared and served as an appetizer however now is seen being enjoyed as a main dish in many restaurants around the United States. The popular dish is often loved by many and regarded as one of the best dishes of Hawaiian cuisine that represents the history and culture of the Hawaiian people. Throughout Hawaii it is common to purchase Poke in the grocery store; many options are available and range from marinated octopus in a spicy kimchee sauce to ahí tuna accompanied by a herbed or spiced mayo.
Poke literally translates to the act of cutting, chopping, sectioning or slicing crosswise which leads to a vagueness in the meaning of the word and therefore leaves plenty of room for creativity and originality when it comes to what goes in the Poke.
Hawaiian poke dates back to the arrival of the first Hawaiians to the island; whatever fish they were able to catch in the day, they mixed with salt and seaweed which they foraged form the ocean. Traditional poke was often influenced by flavoring with seasonings from Japanese and Asiatic cuisine.
The mixture many restaurants in the United States are calling “Hawai’i-style poke” is a combination of chunks of raw ahi tuna coated in a marinade of sesame oil, soy sauce, and onions.
Why The Craze?
Poke has definitely been gaining notice not only in the United States but across the world as well for being an incredibly healthy option for fast food that is packed full of good fats. The beauty of this dish is the absolute simplicity to it, making it a great meal to prepare at home too!
Popularity has emerged from the blending of 3 consumer trends = healthier food, customization, and our natural cultural love of eating from bowls. Another reason why Poke has most likely become popular is because it is more economical to order at half the cost of sushi. Many people also think that consuming raw fish has many health benefits.
For a Unique Poke Experience – Try these 7 Poke Bowl Restaurants in the United States
Since the definition of Poke is vague, there is more than one way you can enjoy yours; the dish can be made with a variety of ingredients, accompaniments and can be served as a salad, plated, or even as a burrito.
In order to make it onto our list of top 7 Poke Bowl Restaurants to Try in the United States, we’ve made sure that we’ve taken into account a list of criteria when making out selection: Product freshness must be of the highest quality in every Poke, each dish should be dynamic and exciting for the tastebuds as well as offer balance, and most importantly, the experience while enjoying your Poke must be unique.
1 – Ono Seafood, Honolulu, Hawaii
Since it was Hawaii where Poke originated from it’s no wonder why this authentic restaurant is the first on our list of must try Poke Bowl Restaurants!!! Tucked away and off of the main road, you may have to do a bit of searching or practice up on your Hawaiian language skills to help you navigate to this little spot, adored by locals and passer-by alike. Unassuming on entry, it’s quite a small restaurant, with only a few tables; most of the customers decide to take their Poke to the beach to enjoy and don’t find the lack of seating a major issue, but it’s no problem as the poke is a great snack to be taken away. It is likely that if you’re passing by Ono Seafood, there’ll probably be quite the line but don’t let the wait discourage you; during the busy times, orders are taken while you wait so that when you reach the front, all you have to do its pay and collect your order. Freshness in the Poke and friendly staff is a guarantee here.
Poke Specialty: The Shoyu Ahí signature poke is a #1 and a must try! For a refreshing beverage to have alongside your Poke, order the chilled green tea and you won’t be disappointed.
2 – Red Poke, Manhattan, New York
For a customized, fun, and attentive Poke experience, try Red Poke, which was opened in 2016 in Manhattan’s theatre district. The interesting concept of mixing table service with the build your own bowl idea, makes this restaurant nearly 100% customizable to your tastes and desired. Come on in, grab a dry-erase sheet, pick your options, pay, take a seat and wait for your Poke to be prepared! Quick, simple, and incredibly delicious! Although we may not label it as an entirely authentic Poke, what makes this local so great is that they offer enough options for all to enjoy; for example, if you’re not interested in raw fish, they also have Korean style rice bowls with protein choices such as spicy pork, shrimp, bulgogi beef, grilled chicken, and herbed vegetables.
Poke Specialty: Red Poke special (tuna, cucumber, red onion, red poke sauce, avocado, scallion, toasted seaweed, sesame seed). Another popular house special is the Waikiki (salmon, cucumber, red onion, pineapple, wasabi aioli, pickled radishes, rice cracker)
3 – Poke to the Max, Seattle, Washington
Starting as 1 Poke food truck, Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max has grown into 3 trucks and recently has expanded to include a brick-and-mortar location. Serving up a culinary array of great Poke with influences of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean spicing and herbs makes Sam Choy’s Poke some of the best in the United States.
The full menu, created by Hawaiian chef Sam Choy, aims to explore many Hawaiian favorites such as musubi, a product similar to nigiri but is made with either kailua pork, spicy tuna, katsu chicken or pickled vegetables.
Poke Specialty: Customized Poke Bowls served with raw fish that is marinated in citrus, soy, chili, and onions. Take your Poke with rice, as a salad, or in a wrap or taco. Tofu Poke is also available for vegetarians.
4 – Täkō, Pittsburgh, Pensilvania
You’ll find more than a funky fusion of Mexican street food in this lively taqueria in the centre of Pittsburgh. Even though they don’t offer more than one Poke dish on their menu, the appetizer they do serve is so good you won’t need a second option. For a relaxed surf vibe with tasty treats add Täkō to your list of must visits!
Specialty: Big eye tuna, nori, spicy soy dressing, whipped lime and a rice cracker.
5 – Liholiho Yacht Club, San Francisco, California
If you’re looking for a dining experience with a twist that highlights local Hawaiian flavors all within an exciting atmosphere then you’ve found you’re next hot spot. Here you will find modern Hawaiian cuisine which has been influenced with Chinese, Indian and Northern California cuisine. With an open kitchen concept, you can watch the skilled chefs prepare your Poke and see just how fresh and in the moment the food is prepared! Exciting flavors and unique textures are perfectly balanced to create, what many are claiming as the best Poke in San Fran. All of the freshest and high quality ingredients are used to prepare the Poke and when combined, they create a delicate combination and palate made for the senses. Their sushi grade tuna is scented with a mix of sesame oil, radish and served on a nori cracker
Although this restaurant offers a number of dishes and it’s exclusively Poke, you’re going to want to check it out.
Poke Specialty: Order from the OHANA TABLE to try their insanely delicious Poke and other Hawaiian fare.
6 – Sweetfin, Santa Monica, California
Focused on freshness and sustainability, Sweetfin sticks to their philosophy of Poke to Bowl. Offering guests the option to build their own Poke or pick from a variety of incredible signature selections, including vegetarian options, provides guests with everything they could possibly desire. Portions at Sweetfin are plentiful, freshness is without doubt their highest priority, and to top it off, the atmosphere at this California Poke restaurant is super chill.
Poke Specialty: Spicy tuna with bamboo rice, napa cabbage, kale, bean sprouts, carrots, and snow peas. Snapper is also one of their signatures and a must try atop your Poke Bowl!
7 – Crazy Poke, Wynwood, Miami
Here’s a restaurant with a bit of mystery and one you will definitely want to check out if you’ve ever heard of the popular Ono Poke Shop in Miami. Crazy Poke is the second restaurant to be opening up under the same owner and has promised to introduce an exciting array of Poke Bowl options complete with the same great quality and style as Ono Poke. Keep an eye out on the newest Poke Bowl restaurant that’s guaranteed to be a hit!
Poke Bowls are taking the United States by storm and popularity of these trendy salads, with marinated raw fish and tasty accompaniments, are quickly evolving to include more options to accommodate the growing following by Poke Bowl lovers. Whether you’re lacking time to prepare a meal or you simply want to try out a new healthy dish, a visit to any one of the 7 Poke Bowl Restaurants in the United States that we’ve listed, are a sure bet to provide you with a great taste of the best Poke to have you hooked. Thank you Poke for saving us from those greasy lunchtime burgers or boring salads from the local super market.
Want to find out where Poke is spreading to, read up on where the trend has been heading…
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