Poke bowls have made their mark as a healthy, refreshing meal for any time of day.
By: Nicole Richie
To most locals on the Islands of Hawaii, poke is a common grab-and-go snack, but now it’s migrated from the islands to the mainland and beyond. Now, poke bowls have made their mark as a healthy, refreshing meal for any time of day. Piled with flavourful toppings that complement the delicate pieces of seafood or vegetarian options, poke is a picnic food that’s great on the go. Not too heavy and lighter on the wallet than your average sushi excursion, this is the ultimate summer dish.
Using products from around British Columbia, partners Michael Tran and Dong Lam are revolutionizing the way Vancouver sees poke. This massive franchise is building bowls of Hawaiian-inspired poke that lends itself to the local flavours and ingredients found across the province. The poke bowls here are delightfully innovative, with nods to Japanese, Korean and Californian cuisine.
Steve’s Poke Bar
891 Great Northern Way (plus several other locations across Vancouver) stevespokebar.ca
Steve Huynh grew up between Vancouver and Honolulu after immigrating to Canada from a Malaysian refugee camp. After meeting his wife, Camy, bringing her to Hawaii and introducing her to poke, they shared their common love of the Polynesian staple and decided to bring it to Vancouver. Huynh’s signature bowls — like the shoyu and spicy ahi tuna, mayo spicy scallops, and shoyu salmon — feature heaps of fresh marinated seafood. But for the true Honolulu experience, try Huynh’s traditional tuna poke bowl, served island-style with extra poke.
Founder Zachary Cho loves poke and it shows. Westcoast Poke is all about sustainability and showing love to the land. Nourishing, fast and affordable, the bowls at Westcoast are great for lunch on the go. Winning numerous consumer awards for its BYOB and signature sides and sauces, this spot is a go-to when looking for poke on the West Coast.
Inspired by the traditional poke bowls of the Hawaiian Islands, Hoki Poke is all about freshness, quality and filling meals full of flavour. With the option to build your own bowl or pick from one of the signature poke options, this tiny Polynesian- influenced restaurant is at the top of our list for poke in Toronto. The classic bowl is loaded with chunks of raw ahi tuna and salmon marinated in the house soy sauce and topped with the traditional accoutrements.
112 Elizabeth St., #1 & 8110 Birchmount Rd., Unit 10 pokeguys.ca
At Poke Guys, choose from brown, white or cauliflower rice; soba noodles or kale for your base; and decorate your bowl with an array of raw and cooked fish, along with some premium topping options. The signature bowls are also a great bang for your buck, especially the Cali, with spicy shoyu salmon and tuna, avocado, crab meat slaw and masago.
Ono Poke Bar
100 Western Battery Rd., #2 (plus several other locations across the GTA) onopokebar.com
Ono Poke is whipping up some super luxurious bowls that are worth the above-average prices. This spot is known not only for its creative signature bowls but also for its torched salmon and tuna poke. The Ono Torched Salmon Bowl is a fan-favourite. Torched and lightly caramelized salmon is delivered on a bed of rice or greens and topped with items like avocado, corn, crispy wonton and drizzled with the house-made wasabi mayonnaise.
Incorporating west coast and Japanese flavours into the Hawaiian favourite, Po-Ke’s bowls are a must-have. As the first poke shop in Calgary, its poke bowls are totally customizable and you can choose from a huge selection of toppings and proteins to fill your bowl. The sauces at Po-Ke are a huge reason that it’s so popular. With options like truffle ponzu, shoyu, roasted sesame and the secret signature sauce, each bowl can be reimagined and elevated to new heights.
This spot is all about building your own bowl. Of course, it has a small selection of pre-designed bowls, but most customers are more inclined to build a bowl with the vast array of proteins, toppings, sauces and finishing’s available at Ola. Choose from a selection of flavourful raw seafood, vegetarian or teriyaki proteins, like the spicy red tuna, special scallop, tofu and teriyaki unagi.
Ono more like “Oh yes”! This poke spot is a newcomer on the fast-casual scene in Calgary. Devoted to bringing super-authentic Polynesian classics to Alberta, Ono’s chef Lawrence Hui worked under the Ka’anapali Beach’s most seasoned chefs in Maui to hone his skills. Ono’s menu is full of house-made sauces and marinades, fresh local seafood and locally sourced produce, making its poke some of the best in Calgary.