Poke (pronounced: poh-kei; rhymes with “okay”) is a Hawaiian fish salad made with cubed raw seafood (typically octopus or ahi tuna).

Contrary to popular belief, poke is not always served on rice or lettuce – the seafood can also be served on it’s own with seasoning.

In the past few years, North America has adapted this cuisine into “fast casual” dining and have include lettuce, rice and toppings. For non-fish eaters, poke has also been westernized to include alternatives such as beef, tofu and chicken.

Key qualities of a good poke are: 1) Fresh fish; 2) Good fish-to-topping ratio and 3) Cohesive Toppings. Based on these qualities, here are my favourite spots for poke:

Poke Guys: One of the only spots to marinade their fish before putting it into the poke – trust me, this makes all the difference!
Rolltation: With 3 locations across downtown and midtown Toronto, Rolltation is probably the most popular poke spot. They have non-fish and vegetarian friendly options such as Cheeto Chicken and Fruity Tofu.
Lawai’a Poke Bar: Known for their iconic pink cutlery and Insta-worthy Hawaiian-themed decor, Lawai’a is a poke experience for the Instagram foodie. Along with salad and rice, there is also the option of choosing zucchini noodles for your base.
Mihito Sushi Laboratory: For those of you who do not like raw fish, I would highly recommend Mihito’s version of poke as it includes protein choices of seasoned saucy eel (unagi) and smoked duck. With locations in both Mississauga and downtown, Mihito was actually one of the very first sushi burritos in the GTA!

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