Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a marinated raw fish dish in Hawaii. Recently over half a dozen shops specializing in poke have popped up in L.A neighborhoods. Speciality shops have created different dishes with poke that attracts Californian consumers because of its health benefactors and its cost of being an average of $10. Bowl of rice, salads, quinoa are topped with poke and stand as alternatives to eating lunch at a sushi bar that would bring an average check of $40.
Sweetfin, a widely popular poke shop, serves a bowl of sashimi-grade tuna heaped on top of rice, or greens, such as citrus kale salad, with a wide range of accompaniments like avocado, edamame, and scallions. Marinades range from soy sauce and sesame oil to creamy togarashi sauce, Sweetfin’s specialty Japanese spicy mayo. While traditional poke in Hawaii involves onions, lime, and nuts, Nestdat and Cohen used more ingredients from Californian and Asian cuisines. Owners of Sweetfin says “Poke is the natural progression from sushi.” Seth Cohen and Brett Nestadt, owners of Sweetfin, wanted to reshape the lunch culture in America with its progression from sushi to poke. Sweetfin has doubled in the amount of fish it buys per week since opening in April, increasing from 700 pounds to 1500 pounds. Daily sales have jumped 40 percent. Cohen and Nestdat are planning to expand and open more shops in metropolitan areas.
Not only has Cohen and Nestdat seen success in poke, but several chefs including Kayson Chong and Eric Park has also seen a rise in their sales. Mainland Poke Shop, and Ohana Poke Co. are poke specialty shops, respectively, that have also contributed to the new wave of poke in California. While Mainland Poke Shop offer poke with quinoa and kale, Ohana Poke Co. offers poke with both French and Korean combinations.
Poke has been making appearances in other foodie destinations outside of L.A. Chef Jesse Sandole’s restaurant in Charleston and Nantucket have poke on their menus. Poke has been growing in Chicago, Washing, and Colorado. New York City’s East Village also has poke dishes from Per Se- one with octopus and another with big-eye tuna.
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