Craving the perfect poke? Here’s where to go to scratch that seafood itch.
Our fickle palettes are always craving the next great food trend. Pork belly, kale everything and designer cupcakes have all had their turn in the spotlight. Now it’s poke’s time to shine. The trendy poke, which literally means raw fish cut crosswise into pieces, may be the food darling du jour, but it traces its roots back to centuries before Western man ever set foot in Polynesia. Across Phoenix, restaurants are pulling out the poke stops to set their dishes apart. Here are some of our favorites.
Hula Modern Tiki
The Dish: It’s no surprise that the Hawaiian restaurant prides itself on a poke that is basically a traditional Hawaiian ceviche consisting of several varieties of white fish marinated in a coconut milk base and cooked in citrus juice. The simplicity of ingredients allows the clean, citrusy flavor and texture of the fish to shine.
The Tip: Owner Dana Mule suggests pairing the dish with the classic Mai Tai or the Molokai Mex, where the smoky notes of the mescal complement the fresh flavors.
The Dish: Unlike several poke places in town, Pokitrition in Chandler is a small, local restaurant founded by several ASU grads. Its seafood is never frozen, and the tuna is caught in Hawaii and shipped next-day air to be the star in the most unusual way to poke—the spice-sea sushi burrito. Combining poke, sushi and burritos is a culinary trifecta. Stuffed inside the rice burrito is the marinated tuna poke along with spicy tuna, jalapeños, onion, sriracha aioli sauce, spicy surimi crab, red cabbage, cilantro, green onions, and crispy wonton strips.
The Tip: The ASU owners like to keep it local, so pair the poke burrito with a glass of Arizona Simple Soda or Cold Press coffee.
Grassroots Kitchen & Tap
The Dish: Many of the Valley’s poke places are fast casual spots, but when you want something a bit more upscale, Grassroots Kitchen & Tap is the place to poke. The dish combines both tuna and shrimp, but it’s the housemade agave ponzu sauce that makes it unique.
The Tip: Chef/owner Christopher Collins suggests a crisp Riesling or a pilsner with medium bitterness for the perfect poke pairing.
The Dish: What sets Chula Seafood Market apart in the sea of poke restaurants is that the family-owned company is both restaurant and seafood monger. Many of the fish varieties are caught by their own boat in San Diego and personally driven by owner Jon and other family members to Phoenix.
The Tip: Try the ceviche bowl to experience the freshly caught Californian fish. With the added texture of sumac quinoa, and the tang of pickled squash, it’s an umami power punch.
The Dish: Fast casual Koi Poke puts a Japanese spin on poke with its build-your-own-bowl concept. In addition to the traditional tuna, diners can opt for octopus, salmon, yellowtail, tofu or even lobster as the base protein, along with add-ons like edamame, shaved brussels sprouts or crispy garlic, you can customize and upscale your poke to your heart’s content.
The Tip:This is North Scottsdale, so order a lobster bowl topped with a Champagne butter sauce to glam up your poke.
The Grill at The Boulders
The Dish: When you want your poke to pair with a stunning view, head north to The Grill at the Boulders Resort & Spa. With floor-to-ceiling windows framing a picture-perfect desert vista there is no prettier place in town to poke. Chef Brian Archibald serves up a classic Ahi Tuna poke featuring avocado, crispy shallots and wontons in a soy-mirin sauce.
The Tip: Request a table by the window for the perfect view.