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4 places to find the best poke bowls in Hong Kong

By Aarohi Narain 5 August 2020

Header image courtesy of Pololi

Among the raw fish dishes of the world—sashimi, ceviche, kinilaw, yusheng, and beyond—there’s none quite as contentious as poke. Poke (pronounced po-kay), meaning “to cut crosswise,” humbly originated as an at-sea snack: Dicing up fresh-caught reef fish and tossing the chunks with sea salt, kukui nuts, seaweed, and brown algae called limu, native Hawaiian fishermen created the prototypical poke.

Over time, the preferences of diverse Asian immigrants, particularly Japanese, pushed ahi tuna, marlin, and cured octopus to become the preeminent proteins, while condiments like soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, and chillies lent new dimensions of flavour. Tumbled onto a mound of fluffy medium-grain rice, poke transformed into the iconic expression of the Aloha Spirit that it is today.

Since its popularity exploded off the island, impassioned debates about authenticity and appropriation have frequently centred on poke. Homesick Hawaiians assert that once you leave the Aloha State, where local supermarkets sell dozens of varieties drawing on indigenous and adapted foodways alike, it’s almost impossible to land on decent poke—especially without the pretences of the Instagram age.

While we don’t recommend hunting for poke at your nearest ParknShop or Wellcome, there are a few but formidable options for Hongkongers eager for a taste of Hawaii. Whether you believe kale and pineapple belong in your bowl or you self-identify as a loyal poke purist, here’s where to find poke in Hong Kong.

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Photo credit: @mimiseats (Instagram)
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Pokéworld

Chipotle, but make it food-safe and fishy—that’s Pokéworld for you. A popular takeaway lunch option with outposts in major business districts of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, Pokéworld takes the build-it-yourself approach to the extreme.

Not ideal for the easily decision-fatigued, your poke bowl is infinitely customisable here. Choose more orthodox bases like rice and salad, or opt for the Pokiritto ($89), a sushi burrito-esque design that taps right into the zeitgeist of loosely Asian-inspired fusion food. With proteins like smoked chicken, tofu, and chickpea available, your options are as wild, varied, and diet-friendly as can be.

The spectrum of toppings transports Pokéworld to glorified salad bar territory—there are more than 15 on offer, from pineapple to poached egg and edamame to asparagus. Skip the lunch queues and get your hyper-personalised bowl through Foodpanda or Deliveroo.

Pokéworld, locations across Hong Kong

Photo credit: POKE HK (Facebook)
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POKE HK

Billed as the first poke place to open up in Causeway Bay, POKE HK is all about the self-built bowl—available for takeaway or through Deliveroo. With tuna, salmon, octopus, and beech mushrooms as your protein options, nearly 20 toppings, and six different sauces with either a creamy mayo or shoyu base to choose from, there’s plenty of leeways to truly make your bowl your own.

If you’d rather leave the mixing and matching to the experts, there are a few improvised house bowls that lean a lot more towards seafood salad than poke proper, like the Poh-Keh ($88), which comes with tuna over sushi rice, or the kaisendon-like California ($98), featuring nubs of salmon crowned with shredded eggs and salmon roe. Pair your healthful meal with the maybe-misplaced-yet-curiously-tasty Sweet Potato Fries ($28), served with a side of wasabi yoghurt. As for Instagram-perfection, the little rainbow-toned neon marquee seals the deal.

POKE HK, G/F, 124 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay

Photo credit: Peek-a-Poke (via Deliveroo)
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Peek-a-Poke

Not only is Peek-a-Poke located less than a minute away from Poke HK, but the menu here is also practically identical. The signature bowls span comparable offerings with passable combinations of fish and toppings. Just like at Poke HK, The Vegan ($78) presents sides like tofu and edamame with beech mushrooms for those going the plant-based route—you’ll find no mock meats here.

One key distinction, however, is that Peek-a-Poke has slightly more seating space to cater to dine-in customers. Usually overflowing with patrons during lunch hours, the narrow dining area attempts to channel island vibes with fishing nets, kayaks, and paddles adorning the walls. To sidestep the crowds, give Peek-a-Poke a try through Deliveroo, Foodpanda, or Uber Eats.

Peek-a-Poke, 16 Haven Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 5595 7729

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Photo credit: @eatwithyiuyiu (Instagram)
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Pololi

Asia’s very first poke chain, Pololi, is your best bet for premium poke nearly 10,000 kilometres away from Poke Paradise. With locations both in Hong Kong and Singapore, what sets Pololi apart from the rest is their more traditional process: Chunks of sashimi-grade fish—with tuna, salmon, and marlin to pick from—are marinated before making their way to your bowl. Crucially, this contributes to a meal that feels more purposefully constructed; rather than coming across as a slapdash assortment of ingredients, the flavours are cohesive and complement each other with every bite.

Although Pololi does allow you to build your own, there’s a set of excellent bowls that range from classic to quirky. Delicious and revelatory, Da Hawaiian Kine ($98)—in which slivered alliums and earthy kukui nut meat meet ragged cubes of blushing tuna, glossy with sesame oil and chilli—eats like an exploration of Hawaiian terroir. Through Deliveroo, you can order bowls of your creation or frozen ahi tuna packs for when you’re pining for poke at home.

Pololi, locations across Hong Kong Island

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Aarohi Narain

Contributor

Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Aarohi moved to Hong Kong after spending time in the United States and Japan. When she’s not sipping on sake or fervently searching for the smoothest cheung fun the city has to offer, you can find her reading and writing about the politics of food and getting involved with local organisations focused on empowering immigrant and refugee women. Read more of her writing here and follow her on Instagram.

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