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Walnut Creek Magazine

Poke, It's All the Rage

Sep 04, 2018 04:04PM ● By Cale Finta

Poke, It's All the Rage

Hawaii’s signature seafood makes a splash 

First there was fro-yo. Then cold pressed juice.  Now poke. Made from marinated raw fish, this refreshing sashimi-style salad is among Hawaii’s most iconic dishes. If you haven't heard of poke (pronounced POH-kay) before, that's about to change. A wave of new restaurants serving the Hawaiian street food have opened in Walnut Creek, bringing with them the next phenomenon in fast-casual dining. And with bowls ranging from $10 to $20, it’s a relatively inexpensive lunch or late-night working meal. If you’re concerned about quality­­—it is raw fish, after all—chefs and restaurant operators say consistent consumption means it won’t sit for more than a day.

Ready to give poke a shot? You have some options.

There's Poke Bar on Locust. Just like neighbor Chipotle, a server helps build your bowl with scoops of rice or lettuce (for the carb-conscious), a protein such as salmon or tuna, and toppings that run the gamut—edamame, avocado, seaweed, corn, carrots, imitation crab, and seaweed salad. Bowls come in small, medium, and large.


A similar build-your-own bar lures diners to Oke Poke. Customers can trick out their tuna, shrimp, or tako-topped rice or noodle bowls with colorful add-ons like sweet onions, mango, spicy crab, ginger, cilantro, roasted sesame seeds and hand-crafted sauces. Miso soup, poke burritos (seaweed wraps), and Hawaiian ice round out the menu. “It’s light and healthy, but it has so much flavor, you start to crave it,” says Oke Poke regular, Justin.

Main Street’s new poke and Boba tea spot, T4 and Poke, is found in the space formerly occupied by a candy shop. Select a signature bowl or build your own. Or try one of their fried food creations—basil popcorn chicken, curly fries, or takoyaki (a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of batter filled with minced octopus (tako) and tempura scraps).

 Gary Zhu and Julie Ren’s Pokeatery on Newell Avenue dishes up sustainably-sourced seafood—ahi, yellowtail, salmon—in boxes loaded with rice, noodles, or greens and unlimited mix-ins. You can go half and half with brown rice and citrus kale here, and top it with Hamachi. They also do uala chips made from Polynesian sweet potatoes and kelp noodles. Add-ins range from pineapple, tempura, and cabbage slaw to masago, kukui nut, and kimchi. Dole whip is a hit on a hot day.

 At the Agora, Pacific Catch packs a punch with plenty of fresh fish. And poke. We like it best prepared simply—ahi tuna in a sesame-soy marinade paired with wonton crisps—to show off the flavor of the fresh sustainable seafood. They also do bowls—poke, seaweed, avocado, daikon salad, ginger, sesame seeds, shredded nori, and soy-wasabi sauce.

And more poke places are on the way…

Look for poke on the menus at Vanessa’s Bistro, Koja Kitchen, Walnut Creek Yacht Club, Lemonade, and Havana. Lafayette has Poke Go and Concord has Poke Salad, Fresh Box, and Sunfish Poke Bar. When Roll House opens on Main Street, the craze continues.
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