In recent years, poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad, has become increasingly popular in mainland United States. Traditional poke (pronounced “poh-kay” which means “to cut” in Hawaiian) is ubiquitous in Hawaii and is available everywhere from roadside stands, to Costco stores and gas stations. With roots in fishing culture––fishermen cubed up the less-desirable parts of their daily catch, seasoned it, and served it as a snack––today’s preparations usually feature raw, marinated fish, tossed over rice and topped with loads of vegetables and decorated with flavorful sauces.
Try these local fast-casual restaurants who have created their own unique, modern spins on this classic:
Konomi Japanese Restaurant
843 Quarry Rd #140, Coralville
Konomi Japanese Restaurant offers a twist on the poke bowl which comes standard with cucumber, seaweed salad, edamame and shredded nori. Diners can make customizations to their bowl with a choice of fish (choose from tuna, salmon, shrimp or octopus) and sauce (selections included soy sauce, creamy wasabi or spicy) and with enough permutations of sauce-fish combos, there’s a bowl for every craving.
Bread Garden Market
225 S Linn St., Iowa City
Order from Bread Garden Market’s automated kiosks and choose from two preparations: salmon or tuna. For something zippy, opt for the salmon variation which is served over sushi rice and loaded with kimchi. The tuna bowl, topped with seaweed salad, creamy avocado, edamame and radish leaves you feeling nourished, satisfied and refreshed.
Soseki Sushi Café and Sake Bar
227 S Dubuque St, Iowa City
At Iowa City’s newest sushi restaurant, Soseki Sushi Café and Sake Bar, the combinations are endless. Each bowl includes avocado, cucumber, pickled radish and seaweed salad. From there, the customization begins. Start with your base: rice, salad, or a half-and-half option for the best of both worlds. Since sushi’s their main game, there’s plenty of high-quality fish in house; select two from a list of thirteen. Top with your preferred sauce.
900 E 2nd Ave, Coralville
The poke bowl at 30hop doesn’t offer the same level of customization as other places, but relax, they’ve done all the work, crafting a balanced bowl and relieving you of decision-making responsibility. Tuck into a bed of brown rice and mixed greens topped with marinated tuna, wonton, crispy vegetables and seaweed salad.