Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a traditional Hawaiian dish, essentially a salad that combines raw fish with fresh vegetables and Japanese flavours. It became all the rage a few years ago in West Coast urban centres and on the Pinterest boards of us amateur chefs. Basically a mashup of the trendy healthy bowl and the always hip tartare, it’s a wonder this concept just recently became a thing.
Now popping up on menus all over the place with various twists to the offerings, most versions of the dish feature diced pieces of ahi tuna. The garnish is where the variety comes into play – soy sauce, sesame oil, and sweet Maui onions, avocado, with sprinkled sesame seeds or scallions added is the modern day take. Native limu seasoning, a type of sea algae, along with crushed kukui nuts (candlenuts) is the traditional method.
Pacific Poke opened in 2016 during the poke rage in Vancouver with their first location in Chinatown. They received rave reviews from Yelpers prompting them to expand, now making them the biggest family of Poke chains in Metro Vancouver. With three locations under their belt plus a smaller location at UBC, all operated by partners Chef Ryan Mah, Dong Lam and Michael Tran, the chain is now franchising and has found its first buyer who will be opening up a new location today (March 30th) at the foot of Bernard in downtown Kelowna directly across from the Sails.
The way to order a bowl at Pacific Poke is pretty simple. Choose a rice base or salad base first, pick the size of your bowl from regular ($12 – two proteins/three toppings) to large ($14.50 – three proteins/four toppings), move onto the proteins which include a choice of ahi tuna, chopped scallop, wild sockeye salmon, ahi negitoro, crab and shrimp or organic tofu, then add a sauce that runs the gamut from sesame miso to “ludacris” hot sauce, and finally move onto the toppings from ginger, kimchi to seaweed and fresh wasabi peas (plus seven others offered).
The menu also has a “We Make it For You” section with four offerings from $13 to $14. And they now also feature a section for the superfood from Brazil, Acai, a delicious tropical fruit that comes served as a bowl ($12) – like a really thick smoothie that’s been topped with oatmeal, fruit or peanut butter, and then you scarf it down with a spoon.