A dish that has been eaten for generations by Hawaiians has only just started to gain traction here in Vancouver. Poke, the Japanese-influenced raw fish salad that is traditionally served as an appetizer, is full of fresh fish and avocado, making it a healthy and tasty snack to enjoy during the summer heat. Considering its similarity to the all-too-popular sashimi, we're expecting it to be a huge hit, and have taken the liberty of sourcing the best restaurants in Vancouver to taste the trend. While you're waiting for highly anticipated The Poke Guy to open downtown, you should definitely check out these places:
2328 Cambie Street Shishinori 's small and vibrant interior is that of a mid-range Japanese café, but the dishes presented are equal to upscale sushi bars. The Hawaiian ahi poke is brightly coloured, with green edamame and cabbage sharply contrasting the pink fish. Served with brown rice, Shishinori's poke has a wonderfully nutty flavour and distinct, fresh texture. The simple dressing choices, such as shoyu (soy sauce), help to bring out the natural taste of the tuna, and pairs well with the brown rice without making it soggy.
3578 Fraser Street Though Oka-san Japanese Kitchen specializes in Japanese comfort food, it also features many Hawaiian-inspired foods such as spam musubi and, of course, poke. Like all of Oka-san's other homestyle mains, the poke bowl is satisfyingly healthy, with plenty of fresh hearty greens, tuna and salmon sashimi, homemade potato salad, avocado, and nori. Though poke is usually considered a light snack, Oka-san's poke has enough volume for it to be considered a proper meal.
1079 Mainland Street As you can imagine from the name, WildTale Coastal Grill celebrates the rich flavours available to us from the ocean, ranging from the clear waters of the Pacific to the powerful waves of the Atlantic. The poke here contains crispy wontons and mango corn salsa, which help not only to amplify the fresh flavour of the ahi tuna, but also to create a harmony of textures on your tongue. Unlike other pokes in the area, WildTale Coastal Grill's isn't served as a bowl, so it's quite an interesting take on the traditional dish.
1039 Mainland Street Light and fresh, the poke at Romer's can be considered an ideal light lunch for the summer season. The large pieces of avocado, mango, and wonton chips pair well with the spicy dressing, which helps to accentuate the sweetness of the salad's ingredients. To add a little more crunch to the dish, it is served with tortilla chips, which also gives it a slightly Mexican spin. The light flavours pair well with the honey thyme lemonade, which makes it ideal for a boozy brunch.
1175 Davie Street Sushi Bella is a popular and well-known seafood restaurant in the Vancouver area, so it stands to reason that it's on top of the Hawaiian poke game. The soy and sesame sauce accentuates, rather than drowns out or disguises, the freshness of the red tuna slices, and there's plenty of them to work through. While some restaurants only offer a few slices of sashimi, Sushi Bella is extremely generous.
150 - 25th Street Admittedly, this pick requires trekking to West Vancouver, but Dundarave's oceanfront restaurant is well worth a visit, if only for their tuna poke nachos. A recent addition to the menu, they make for a fabulously fresh, and tasty, starter or side. The laid-back haunt also has award-winning wines and quality West Coast cuisine aplenty. Travel there for brunch and spend the rest of the day chilling on their idyllic patio.