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What You Need to Know About Poke

Whether you’re visiting Hawaii or you call the islands home, you’ve probably heard of poke. It’s hard to go anywhere in Hawaii and not see poke on a menu, especially at the best restaurants in Waikiki. 

However, the more you see it pop up, the more you begin to wonder…

Don’t worry, we’ve all been through the poke-question cycle. It’s an exciting and delicious dish, but it comes with a lot to learn.

Overhead shot of a poke bowl

What is poke? 

Poke is a seafood dish consisting of diced raw fish, traditionally skipjack tuna or octopus. 

Ahi poke, an increasingly popular form of poke is made with yellowfin tuna

What’s the best kind of poke? 

The most common form of poke other than the traditional style that is served with sea salt, candlenut, seaweed, and limu, is the poke bowl. A modern twist, poke bowls are often served with ahi tuna, rice, avocado, onions, seaweed, seasonings, dressing, and sometimes hot sauce. Another popular poke option, poke nachos, can come with ahi poke, kalua pig, green onions, avocado, and special sauce that are served on top of chips. While there are plenty of other variations of poke, these are our top three favorites. Which of the three is the best?

D) All of the above!

Closeup photo of a spicy ahi poke bowl

Is poke Hawaiian? 

Yes! “Poke” is the Hawaiian word meaning “to cut into pieces” and was prepared by native Polynesians long before Westerners arrived in Hawaii. Poke first became popular in the 1970s as tourism began to boom and visitors started to discover the dish. Poke saw another spike in the 90s when Hawaiian Chef Sam Choy founded the Poke Festival and Recipe Contest. This is when more variations of poke became common. The third spike in the Hawaiian dish, came in 2015 where the number of local restaurants that served poke more than doubled in just a couple years. This is believed to be caused by a shift to more modern versions of poke as well as the demand for fast-casual style restaurants in which poke was a perfect dish to serve. 

Is poke healthy? 

Yes, poke and poke bowls are healthy! According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, we should be consuming at least 8 ounces of seafood a week. It’s great for protein, healthy omega-3 fats as well as several vitamins and minerals. It also helps that poke doesn’t come deep fried like fish-n-chips. 
While seafood is highly encouraged for our diets, keep in mind, poke is raw fish. It’s important to remain mindful of this when deciding where to get poke. Try to stay clear from poke that sits in an open refrigerating area as it can become spoiled.

Closeup of poke from Tanaka of Tokyo
Picture Source: @tanakaoftokyo

Where to get the best poke?

While our favorite places to get poke include Tanaka of Tokyo or Shaka Poke, the options in Hawaii are endless. Take the time to try different variations of poke and at different places. Not only will your tastebuds appreciate it, you may come to find out for yourself that our favorite places do sell the best poke in Hawaii!

Tanaka of Tokyo is currently open daily from 5pm – 8:30pm. Click to make a reservation.

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