by Steven Doyle
Poke (rhymes with “okay”) literally means “to cut crosswise into pieces.” It’s a simple dish made of chopped seafood, generally tuna, marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, and mixed with onion. But, you’ll find many variations of this when you visit poke shops and grocery stores around Hawaii. Octopus (tako) and mussels are two common options, and spicing it up with wasabi or kimchee are also popular variations.
I have a handful of friends who live in Hawaii and they think it curious that Dallas would wish to recreate this simple dish, yet aone have dozens of restaurants devoted to this Hawaiian regional cuisine. It is simple, Dallas is a major hub for seafood, we get it very fresh. Sushi grade tuna is always frozen to kill off parasites, plus we dig our sushi. It only makes sense to have this relatively inexpensive treat available in Dallas.
This said, not all poke in Dallas is created equal. This is why we have researched poke for the past month sampling out most versions. This list will only contain versions we appreciated the most and found interesting from a culinary perspective. We did not include wonderful versions sold at restaurants not devoted to poke, not today. You may find great versions at TJ’s Seafood Market, Lover’s Seafood, The Keeper, and even Sevy’s all have delicious poke-style bowls available all priced within the Dallas threshold of poke prices.
Malibu Poke: Definitely the best poke in Dallas with fresh seafood flown in from TJ’s Seafood, it’s parent company, and recipes by Dallas’ wunderkind chef Matt McCallister. Look for delicious bowls ordered from their state-of-the-art system where you punch in your favorite bowl and customize at will. Fast casual the bowl is soon brought tableside to enjoy. Enjoy a selection of salmon, tuna hamachi and even tofu all bowled up with McCallister’s fresh sauces and locally sourced veggies. We enjoyed the riced cauliflower. Look for new locations including one in Austin very soon.
Go Fish Poke: We reviewed this one soon after it opened in Preston Center and was taken with the super comfortable digs, the great selection and ease of ordering the poke. This restaurant comes to us via Tony Lin, a sushi master who practices his trade in Rockwall at a restaurant called Edo Japan, so he knows his fish. The cuts of fish are large and generous and include ahi tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab and tofu to name a few, plus plenty of salad items to beef up the bowls designed by your own personality. Sauces are not an afterthought, and you may make your bowl as spicy or sweet as you might enjoy.
Lowkey Poke Joint: This Addison location comes direct from California where the chain rolls up some interesting bowls and one burrito. The Hot Cheeto Sushiritto is a green tea-infused rice, salmon, tuna, crab meat, and vegetable roll wrapped in nori seaweed and dusted with crumbled Hot Cheetos. Worth a visit for this burrito alone.
Poke Bop: Every poke needs a gimmick to survive the vicious poke landscape and at Poke Bop, besides making a fresh and fancy poke bowl they have created the poke bagel. Poke Bop’s chef, Tommy Hwang, is a certified sushi chef with 27 years of experience and he’s created a menu of traditional poke fare that is fresh, clean and super affordable making the perfect meal on the go. And the bagel is a round of rice molded into a familiar shape filled with crab and then wrapped in a variety of sushi slices and rests atop a nori crisp. This dish is extreme on flavor and very filling itself for the price of a happy meal.
Bowls and Tacos: Our mantra used to be to never get my poke where we got our tacos and not to get tacos where we got our bowls, but at this Sam Wynne eatery located on the cusp on Deep Ellum does both with verve. Look for classic poke, a spicy version tuna and crab along with plenty of heat, and a Texas poke with Gulf Shrimp, black beans grilled corn, napoles, guac and so much more. Oh, and tacos.
FreshFin Poke Co: Fresh, delicious and served without all the gimmicks. FreshFin is located in Legacy West and offers all the poke accoutrements pls an Orange Theory bowl for those dining healthy. Isn’t poke healthy anyway?