‘Poke’ is not just an outdated form of Facebook flirting. When pronounced ‘poh-kay’ or ‘po-key,’ it’s a delightful raw fish salad that originated in Hawaii.
And in those islands, it’s all over the place: menus, supermarkets, convenience stores, and more.
Primarily influenced by Japanese cuisine, poke is usually seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and scallions.
Though poke is traditionally served as an appetizer, it has evolved to also serve as a topping on rice bowls and vegetable salads.
We’re lucky enough to have a list of excellent poke options here in the desert. To spice things up, we’ve included a few non-poke dishes that feature chopped raw tuna, such as tuna donburi and tartare. Not exactly poke, but definitely related.
5425 N. Kolb Rd., Ste 115
Poke bowl from Eat-a-Pita (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Later this summer, Eat-a-Pita will rebrand with the new name Jimmy’s Pita and Poke Bowls. They’ve already begun offering the option to order customizable poke bowls, so feel free to swing by now. Although you can get your poke in a pita, the rice is good enough that you don’t really need to make the switch. Jicama is an unusual topping choice, but offers a pleasant bright crunch.
For an upgrade from the Spicy Tuna Don, order it Volcano-style. A bowl of sushi rice is topped with spicy tuna, seaweed, sesame seeds, scallions, cucumber, unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and crunchy tempura flakes. A side of miso soup is included.
Yellowtail Poki Bowl and Salmon Poki Bowl from MiAn Sushi & Modern Cuisine (Credit: Jackie Tran)
The lunch menu at MiAn features a variety of seven poki bowls, such as the Yellowtail with seaweed salad, jalapeño, avocado, and cilantro and the Salmon with roasted beet, avocado, cucumber, avocado, and cilantro. The portion is on the lighter side, so share a plate of kimchi fried rice if you have an appetite.
Mr. An’s Tuna Poke is served with diced ahi tuna sashimi, thinly sliced onions, green onions, and wasabi soy vinaigrette over cucumber. For a modern variation, order the Tuna Tar Tare. Avocado and mango in a spicy miso sauce are topped with chopped tuna sashimi, tobiko, onion, and scallion.
Rainbow poke bowl at OBON Sushi + Bar + Ramen (Credit: Jackie Tran)
The Poke Bowl at OBON is available as tuna, salmon. or rainbow. Go for the rainbow if you’d like the biggest variety of seafood. The bowl is packed with sushi rice, cilantro microgreens, crispy onions, scallions, sunomono (cucumber salad), seaweed salad, jalapeño, avocado, and spicy poke dressing. It’s a huge portion, but you’ll love every single bite.
The recently-opened PokeZone as sushi offers customizable poke bowls and poke burritos in the heart of downtown. Be aware the poke burrito is wrapped in seaweed, not a tortilla, so it’s like a giant sushi roll.
Hawaiian Poki Salad at Sachiko on Wilmot (Credit: Jackie Tran)
The Hawaiian Poki Salad features chunks of ahi over iceberg lettuce with carrot, daikon, sprouts, sesame, scallions, and onion with a gingery poki dressing. Make sure to squeeze the wedge of orange over it, as the fruity sweetness and acidity helps balance the dish.
Volcano Spicy Tuna Don at Samurai (Credit: Shana Gegantoca)
The Volcano Spicy Tuna Don also appears at Samurai, towering with rice, spicy tuna, masago, seaweed, scallion, cucumbers, spicy cumber, tempura flakes, spicy mayo and sweet sauce. A cup of miso soup is included.
Mini-poke at Sushi on Oracle (Credit: Jackie Tran)
While poke isn’t officially on the menu, chef Tommy Begay can whip up a special poke upon request. To indulge in a special meal, sit at the sushi bar and order omakase, which is essentially the chef’s choice for the entire meal.
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