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Last modified on August 13th, 2018 at 11:55 am
‘Poke’ is not just an outdated form of Facebook flirting.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.
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 more information, visit tucsoneatapita.com.
With sashimi-grade ahi, why sear it? The Tuna Poke Style Salad features fresh tuna and seaweed on a bed of spring mix greens and a spicy dressing, so there’s no carb guilt here.
For more information, visit ginzatucson.com.
If you don’t want to fuss with a roll, the Spicy Tuna Bowl at Ichiban highlights the spicy tuna mix with a few slices of cooling avocado on top of a bowl of rice.
For more information, visit Ichiban Japanese Restaurant on Facebook.
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.
Keep up with Ikkyu on Facebook.
Choose between salmon, ahi, or unagi for the Poke Bowl ($11.95), which also features crab salad, seaweed salad, nori, avocado, tobiko, wasabi tobiko, edamame, and special sauce.
Keep up with Island Plate Lunch on Facebook.
The Poki Salad at K Japanese doesn’t feature typical salad greens, but rather seaweed salad, squid salad, and cucumber salad with radish, sashimi dice, and ponzu sauce.
For more information, visit kjprestaurant.wix.com/home.
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.
For more information, visit miansushi.com.
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.
For more information, visit mrantucson.com.
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.
For more information, visit obonsushi.com.
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.
For more information, visit pokezonetucson.com.
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.
For more information, visit sachikosushitucson.com.
Don’t use chopsticks for the Ahi Poke Tacos, which feature fresh ahi, green onion, sliced avocado, cabbage, toasted sesame seeds, and ponzu in a crispy wonton taco shell.
For more information, visit saguarocorners.net.
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.
Keep up with Samurai on Facebook.
For only $6.25, the Poki Salad at Sushi Cho is worth ordering instead of just the squid salad or seaweed salad.
Keep up with Sushi Cho on Facebook.
For another affordable ($6.75) similarly-styled Poki Salad further south, check out Sushi Lounge. Chopped sashimi, cucumber, raddish, seaweed, and squid salad are mixed with ponzu sauce.
For more information, visit sushiloungeaz.com.
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.
For more information, visit sushionoracle.net.
The Tuna Poki Salad at Ume features their special spicy sauce and adds pine nuts to jazz things up with the usual diced ahi tuna, cucumbers, radish sprout, thinly-sliced onions, and sesame oil.
For more information, visit casinodelsol.com.
Where’s your favorite poke in Tucson? Let us know in the comments.