Poke is a Hawaiian dish of cubed raw fish seasoned in different ways. Poke (pronounced po-kay) in Hawaiian means “cut crosswise into pieces” and traces back to pre-colonial times when locals mixed cubed fish with salt, seaweed, and roasted kukui-nuts. Unlike other dishes of raw fish, poke does not use citrus. Over time, as different cultures came to the islands, the mix of ingredients expanded to reflect the tastes and cuisines of the interlopers. As poke has moved across the planet, the dish has further changed as different areas and chefs have made modifications (not all for the best [I’m looking at you Flamin’ Hot Cheetos]).
When Trisha Fortuna and her hubs Jason McVearry returned to Los Angeles after enjoying poke on O’aha and found no poke places, they opened Poke-Poke on Venice Beach in 2010 (hence the tagline “The Surfer’s Sashimi” and the surfer vibes of the decor). In 2014, they returned to Austin, bringing Poke-Poke with them. They’ve now expanded to three locations in Austin (including one in Allandale at 2320 Hancock) and one in Fort Worth with more on the way.
Poke-Poke stays on the traditional side, leaving their dishes fish-forward (no Flaming Hots here, my friends). You order fast-casual style, first choosing a recipe that ranges from basic to spicy to vegan (pressed tofu instead of fish), then choosing a size and base, then adding included and/or premium ingredients. Then you sit down to enjoy! The Bride raved about her Aloha Poke (ahi tossed with light aloha shoyu, rice wine vinegar, sea salt and chili flake and topped with cucumber), secretly returning several days later for more (if there is infidelity in our marriage, it’s with food). I tried the OG (Ahi tossed with shoyu, sesame oil, white and green onion, and sesame seeds with the Sriracha Aioli option plus avocado). While I wasn’t as bonkers about it as The Bride, I certainly enjoyed it, perhaps preferring The Bride’s simpler choice than my saucy selection. And there’s no denying the healthy aspects of the food. Besides the aforementioned vegan choice, Poke-Poke can also accommodate gluttons for gluten-free food.
My only disappointment with Poke-Poke is the name. When Trisha and Jason brought the business to Texas, they should have renamed it Hoke-Poke, cause that’s what we do ’round these parts!
I wrote this review for the Allandale Neighbor.