If you've never been to Hawaii, you may never have tasted poké, a raw fish dish that's ubiquitous on the islands. But suddenly, poké shops are opening across the country, and chefs are adding this Hawaiian specialty to their menus. Here are a few of the more interesting ones to look out for. And a hot tip: If you want to fit in at the local poké shop, don’t flash a tired old hang-ten hand sign but say “choke ono grinds ” which is pidgin Hawaiian slang for "a lot of good food"—or in this case, poké.
Sweetfin, Santa Monica, CA
Chef Dakota Weiss of Top Chef fame was behind the soul food menu at Sweetfin in Santa Monica, one of the first poké shops to jump on this craze. The hip design is by Studio Collective (The Bungalow), so it’s a step up from a fast-food pit stop. The upscale poké choices feature kale snapper with yuzu koshu sauce, edamame and lime, and you can build your own bowl by adding toppings with abandon: for instance black sesame seeds, or chili oil. This raw fish craze has become so popular on the West Coast that the team is planning five more SoCal locations this year, and even high-end hotels like The Four Seasons at Beverly Wilshire have hosted brunch pop-ups with the poké bowls from Sweetfin. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire.
Sunny’s at The Hall, Miami
Chef Spike Mendelsohn, who came in 5th place on Top Chef Season 4, has created the Head High Poké Bowl for Sunny’s at The Hall hotel in Miami’s South Beach area. The bowl is filled with line-caught skipjack tuna, Maui onion, shaved asparagus, toasted sesame and puffed rice, and it's available on the all-day menu. There's also a new monthly " Poké Party" featuring three poke bowls, all made with fresh fish that Chef Spike caught that day. Photo courtesy of Star Chefs.
Oceana, New York City
Chef Ben Pollinger of Oceana, an elegant seafood restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, offers a poké trio. But you need to be in the know (and now you are), since this item is not on the menu. Just ask for the raw-bar appetizer, and what you’ll get is a trio of tuna, hamachi and salmon prepared Hawaiian poké style. Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson.
Brine, Newburyport, MA
Brine's poké salad is for kale-lovers: the Acadia Harvest-Raised Yellowtail Poké Salad has marinated red kale AND crispy green kale chips, and it's tossed with a Dijon dressing. Chef Justin Shoults at Brine (known for its oysters and crudo) believes that while tuna is a popular choice for poké, it’s not typically the most sustainable option, so he’s opting for yellowtail. Meanwhile, Shoults will also be chef at the highly anticipated Oak + Rowan, set to open in Boston this summer. Photo courtesy of Laing Photo.
Café No Se at the South Congress Hotel, Austin
One of the coolest hotels on the planet also has an equally fun all-day eatery, Café No Se, where you can order the Big Eye Tuna Poké Bowl. It comes with big cerignola olives, pickled jalapeño, pistachio, grapefruit and of course tuna poké. Guests can also order this in their room, so it’s a win-win.
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