New Haven is known by many to be a premier food city given its world-renowned pizza and its claim to the first hamburger in the United States. As recently as last summer, however, New Haven had not yet been swept up by the poke craze that has taken both the East and West Coasts by a storm. Now, New Haven has succumbed to poke fever with the opening of Pokelicious and Pokémoto in the past couple months.

The question remains: whose home turf is this? Who will win New Haven’s Poke War?

#SpoilerAlert: our stomachs survived the Poke adventure, as both restaurants had high-grade raw fish. Frankly, it was an accomplishment in itself that we could have poke twice in one day in New Haven without feeling any digestive consequences.


Bella Halley

Pokémoto is tucked away on Audubon Street just a few feet from Whitney Avenue, New Haven’s major downtown thoroughfare. This location gives Pokémoto the feel of a classic lunch place in a business district: it’s spacious, it has a relatively sterile interior, and it's laid out similarly to a Chipotle. Everything inside feels clean and even though it is not a chain, there is a certain element to the place that makes it feel legitimate and established.

What We Ordered:

Bella Halley

We got the Hawaiian Poke which came with ahi tuna, green onions, sweet onions and masago tossed in Pokémoto classic sauce and topped with garlic chips and sesame seeds over white sushi rice. We then picked a few extra topping additions, including avocado (for $1.50 extra).

The poke itself was fresh and flavorful, and everything else in the bowl did a good job of bringing out the quality of the tuna. We especially liked how the bowl consisted of different textures: the mushy avocado, the slippery tuna, the crispy onion. Pokémoto’s classic sauce-- a spicy mayo-- did a great job of adding extra flavor to the bowl and went perfectly with the tuna.

We only had two issues with our poke. Firstly, while the avocado was good, it was scooped on top in a mash (almost guacamole-like) that didn’t seem very fresh. Secondly, the poke was quite expensive. For our large bowl, which consisted of three scoops of tuna with added avocado, our bill totaled over $15. Pokémoto may be a bit too pricey to survive as a lunch place if it is pricing out some people as potential customers.

Pokémoto did have more than just poke though. Their homemade frozen yogurt, a swirl of Dole Strawberry and Pineapple was delicious, and we appreciated that Pokémoto was trying to serve more Hawaiian fare than just poke.


Bella Halley

Pokelicious sits on Church Street by Crown in Downtown New Haven. Situated in a smaller space, Pokelicious has a quick, solo lunch set-up. Its only seating area is a long table up against the wall with high seats. The layout and decoration is certainly on the casual side, but it was still inviting. 

What We Ordered:

Bella Halley

This time we decided to build our own poke bowl. We stuck to ahi tuna as our protein and white rice as our base, then changed it up a bit with their Ponzu sauce mixed into our tuna. For toppings, we added onion, seaweed, edamame, masago and crispy onion. It was topped off with a fresh avocado sliced right in front of us, which we thought was a much better way to serve it. Pokelicious also lets you pick a second sauce once the toppings have been added; we chose spicy mayo. Our large-sized bowl came out to about $13-- about $2 less than Pokémoto

Overall, we approved of the Pokelicious bowl. We were pleased with the quality of the fish and other ingredients. The Ponzu sauce had a tart taste that balanced the kick of the spicy mayo nicely, the avocado chunks were easy to eat with the fish and rice and our crunchy toppings added texture to the bowl.

The Verdict:

If you are looking for a quick bite to eat and a decently-priced poke bowl, go to Pokelicious. It will satisfy your poke craving and leave you (and your stomach) content. If you are looking for a higher-scale experience-- which is also reflected in the price-- and a stronger sense of authenticity, head over to Pokémoto.

It seems that both restaurants have their own niche and are high quality enough that each will be able to integrate themselves into the New Haven food scene. This little city may have just enough room for two poke shops.