One of the hottest food trends in Los Angeles is poke (PO-KAY), a bowl built around marinated raw chunks of fish. Originally popular as a beach shack dish in Hawaii, poke shops and food trucks are all over Southern California…from Malibu to Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Downtown LA and all the way down the coast to San Diego.
Basically raw tuna, salmon or other fresh fish chunks are marinated in soy, sesame oil and other ingredients and then layered over rice, quinoa, or greens and served with add ins like avocado, mango, seaweed, onion and other veggies. Healthy, light and refreshing, it is a popular alternative to sushi and sashimi, and a perfect dish for lunch, dinner or a snack as Miami heads into the summer months.
Miami is starting to discover this delicious lunch or dinner option with a number of favorite places offering poke on their menu. La Mar by Gaston Acurio has been offering a poke appetizer for a while now. Prime Fish also has poke on their menu as well. Pubbelly Sushi has what they call Hawaiian Poki but is basically the same marinated tuna dish.
My Ceviche, who has always been a popular spot for fresh fish ceviche and “build your own bowls” has a Tuna Poke Bowl on their menu as well. Served over your choice of greens, rice or quinoa and kale, with optional add ins that include avocado, mango, onions and tomatoes.
BLT Prime in Doral has also added a Poke Pop-Up to their extensive meat-centric menu with two options including an octopus poke and a scallop poke by way of the executive chef at BLT Steak in Waikiki.
I reached out to a friend who works and does the social media and PR for Los Angeles based Mainland Poke Shop to ask him about what makes poke so popular and what are the favorite bowl combinations and toppings.
He cites the many sauces as key to poke variety and sites spicy shoyu, wasabi cream and sriracha aioli as the most popular. Ahi Tuna is number #1 raw fish, and popular served over kale or baby greens. He likes avocado, seaweed, jalapeno, mango and tobiko as toppings. He says the key is to mix the whole bowl up to get the marinade, greens, crunch and fish all mixed together.
In researching for this story, a couple MIAbites contributors shared with me more info. Anna Ciambrone of @TwoForks2 had recently been wowed by the poke bowls at both Prime Fish and MyCeviche. And Amber Love Bond of @amberlove_bakes discovered a sign from “Coming Soon” Ono Poke Shop on a recent visit to Wynwood, and Local Boy Poke, the fast casual concept from River Oyster Bar’s David Bracha and Curtis Rhodes has a rolling poke food truck. Poke 305, which opened in Brickell in the Spring offers the closest to the California poke experience with their extensive menu of fish, sauces, mix ins and toppings. They offer as bowls, burritos or salad and are priced around $12.95-15.95.
So while the temps stay warm in Miami( and actually may feel a bit like California temps), get ready to discover the newest food trend to hit our shores. Don't be a slow- poke!