Fresh, fast and generally healthy, poké is a simple expression of Hawaii’s love for raw fish fused with Japanese flavors. At its most basic, poké is a bowl of cubed raw fish, dressed in soy sauce and topped with simple ingredients, like chili peppers and green onions. Twists on this quick, classic recipe have turned up variations including delicious vegan versions. Here’s a roundup of the trendiest and upcoming poké spots to visit as the Hawaiian craze spreads across the mainland.
Sweetfin Santa Monica
At Sweetfin, you get to “BYOB”—build your own bowl—or choose from a handful of signatures. Protein options range from tuna to tofu, bedded on staples like bamboo rice, kelp noodle or citrus-kale salad and dressed with a slew of sweet and spicy sauces. The Classic Tuna mostly follows the tried-and-true poké recipe, brightened with red chile and sesame seeds. Add-ons for crunch, kick or sweetness include wasabi-toasted coconut flakes, jalapeño and avocado, among others. Complete your meal with taro chips sprinkled with wasabi-furikake spices and unsweetened teas infused with fresh fruit.
Mainland Poké Beverly Grove
Another “choose your own” poké venture here at Mainland Poké, a large bowl gets you three scoops of fish with a choice between tuna, albacore, salmon, octopus and tofu. There’s a playful Hawaiian nuance, like a coconut sauce and a strong nod to Hawaii’s influential Japanese population with toppings like furikake (dry seasoning) and tobiko (roe). To appreciate the Japanese palate, try the Ichiban bowl with albacore tuna, pickled ginger, tobiko and a wasabi cream sauce.
Pokéworks Midtown West
Poké has also made waves in New York, where an outpost of Northern California’s original Pokéworks just opened in Manhattan. While Pokéworks highlights the classic, raw approach, it also heats up add-ons like seared albacore, tuna, scallops and shrimp that have been cooked sous-vide. Taking it another step, carnivores can savor a chicken version of the trendy bowl. And, if you’re truly looking for pastiche, the Pokiritto stands out, wrapping rice and all of poké’s main ingredients in seaweed.
Crave Fishbar Midtown East
Other NYC spots like Crave Fishbar, which above all focuses its menu on sustainable seafood, now features poké on its menu. Instead of simply staying on-trend, the restaurant decided to try something different by using an underutilized type of fish, known as the Porgy, which is not seen on many menus throughout the United States. The result is their Porgy Poké: a salty, spicy dish with a little bit of crunch from popped rice and candied macadamia nuts.
Mother of Pearl Alphabet City
Vegans also get their fill at New York’s Mother of Pearl restaurant and tiki bar, where green mango poké opts for cubes of mango and jicama instead of raw fish, served atop a bed of soy and mirin sauce. It’s also mixed with tomatoes, crispy rice and macadamia nuts, along with other Hawaiian flavors sprinkled throughout the menu such as black lava salt and pineapple relish.
Juvia Miami Beach
Poké is one of the popular dishes at this French, Japanese and Peruvian fusion in South Beach. Made with tuna and paired with hijiki (a brown sea vegetable) and a spicy sesame chili, this poké is served as a light appetizer that will tantalize your palate. To top it off, the rooftop restaurant features a gorgeous plum and grey décor that complements the sunset along Miami’s skyline.
GRILL 23 & Bar Back Bay
In Boston, poké shares the same menu with a steak entrée at Grill 23 & Bar. Their version is served over a wakame salad topped with Szechuan spiced peanuts. Grill 23’s spin on this Hawaiian dish is finished with bourbon barrel-aged Vietnamese fish sauce, giving it a sweet and smoky character. Boston will get even more poké this summer after the opening of Caswell Restaurant Group’s Oak + Rowan, which will offer a yellowtail poké salad with red kale and juniper.
FireFin Poké Shop The Loop
Chicago will soon be joining the ranks of poké purveyors: FireFin Poké Shop is opening this season. Helmed by chef Rodelio Aglibot, Firefin will be a quick-service concept with unusual ingredients, like purple rice and tomba tuna, among many options.
BUBU Northwest Lodo
Troy Guard’s new menu spotlights poké, a nod to his childhood in Hawaii. Bubu’s focus on healthy, fresh dishes fits poké’s elements perfectly. The chef recommends Bubu’s Hawaii Five-O bowl, which can be customized with whichever protein or base you desire, tossed with flavorful soy onion dressing and topped with texture from the crunchy Bubu, raw crispy fennel and delicate hearts of palm.