Poké, pronounced po-kay, is basically a Hawaiian version of tuna ceviche. The dish’s staple ingredients typically include Ahi tuna or some other type of raw fish, soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed, and sesame seeds. In LA, most poké places are usually DIY affairs, meaning guests get to pick exactly what goes in their bowls. Popular additions include a rice or greens base with a variation of soy or aioli sauces and fresh fruits or vegetable toppings. If you’re lucky, for a few extra bucks, you can even score some avocado.
These days, there’s practically a poké option in practically every neighborhood in L.A. So here is a rundown of all the poké places close to UCLA:
6. Poké Bar
Poké Bar offers the greatest selection of bases, proteins, and topping options including the unconventional nacho base with shrimp or scallops. This wide selection is very impressive, but also very very overwhelming.
#SpoonTip: I would reccommend ordering one of the pre-set combinations and customizing the toppings.
The pro’s about Poké Bar include the fact that you get a lot of bang for your buck, they are definatley generous with their portions. In addition, there are a lot of free add-on’s such as crab and seaweed salad. However, sometimes these add-on’s become distracting and unnecessary.
The two major con’s that I would note about the menu here would be the taste of the rice and spicy tuna protein. The rice is nothing special and the spicy tuna shares a similar consistancy to that of what goes in a spicy tuna sushi roll rather than the traditional diced fish with spicy seasoning. This consistancy made it a bit hard to incorperate this protein with the rest of the dish.
Ultimatley, if you are on campus and really hungy and you know exactly what combination you would like, I would reccommend checking out Poké Bar.
5. Poké Me
The menu at Poké Me is pretty typical but features a few unique aspects. For one thing, they allow patrons to add up to two sides. The side options include portions of seaweed salad, edamame, avocado, and crab meat. In addition to this generous selection, other interesting elements include the truffle ponzu sauce and roasted garlic topping.
4. Sweetfin Poké
Sweetfin Poké offers a selection of signature bowls as well as a build your own bowl option. The cool thing about Sweetfin is the base selection which includes bamboo rice, kelp noodle-cucumber slaw, and a citrus-kale salad.
#SpoonTip: Sweetfin is opening up a location on Westwood Blvd. soon!
3. The Poké Shack
(AKA Big Daddy’s)
Located in Venice Beach, The Poké Shack offers build your own poké bowls as well as acai bowls. The quality of fish here is excellent and they feature a diverse selection of toppings such as mushrooms, kimchi, watermelon radish, bok choy, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and charred pineapples.
#SpoonTip: Each bowl comes complimentary with cucumber, ginger, white and green onion, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and a pinch of red chili flakes. But I would defiantly reccommend getting the additional macadamia nut topping for an extra crunch.
Poké-Poké is great because not only is it right on the Venice Beach Boardwalk just steps away from the beach, but they also offer a pre-set base menu so the ordering process isn’t as overwhelming. The base combinations come in a variety of flavors ranging from Hawiian style to spicy tuna and wasabi. While the base menu is pre-set, orders can still be customized with the addition of various toppings.
1. Mainland Poké
Lets just put it this way, Mainland Poké is God’s gift to earth.
#SpoonTip: They have a customer rewards program that is connected to your phone number, so you earn points towards a free bowl with each purchase (and if you eat there as much as I do, it definatley pays off)