Header image courtesy of Jonathan Borba (via Unsplash)
It’s hard not to notice the huge trend of colourful rice bowls all over your feeds on social media—these beautiful bowls are called poké and originate from Polynesia. Poké means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian, and refers to rice bowls topped with marinated chunks of raw fish, not unlike Japan’s chirashi (ちらし). The history of poké can be traced back to when the native Polynesians seasoned raw reef fish with sea salt and seaweed, topped with crushed candlenut. This way, they were able to preserve fish as well as enhance the flavour. However, it was not until the 1970s when poké as we know it began to rise in popularity—it started coming to supermarkets on the island of Hawaii, and eventually, the dish travelled to other parts of the country and then the world.
Poké bowls are highly customisable—choose from toppings such as salmon, tuna, edamame, seaweed salad, avocado, and pickled ginger, on a bed of rice, salad, and even chips. This is a list of the best poké spots around the globe to visit, from Melbourne to London.
Known as one of the OG poké restaurants in Hong Kong, Poké HK is famous for its self-built bowls (although they have house specials, too). You can pick through a selection of tuna, salmon, octopus, and mushrooms for protein and top them off with over 20 toppings and six different sauces. Also, if you are not satisfied with just a bowl of amazing poké, you can also try their amazing sweet potato fries that are served with wasabi yoghurt.
Poké HK, G/F, 124 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 5986 6398
Pokéworld is a great spot to check out if you are looking for some takeaway lunch and want something healthy but delicious. Since you are able to be customise everything about your order, go choose the protein, toppings, sauce, and veggies. Besides their poké bowls, they also specialise in Pokirittos, which is essentially a sushi burrito that contains all the amazing ingredients in poké but in wrap form.
Pokéworld, 8 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2811 2115
Pickabowl is a great choice for some amazing looking and delicious tasting poké on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Rather unknown to those not familiar with the area, this spot is worth checking out when craving some mouth-watering food and alongside get some gram-worthy pics!
Pickabowl, Shop 112, 1/F, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok | (+852) 2590 9606
Ahi Assassins began as a roadside stop for fresh grinds, but eventually became one of Hawaii’s most elite fish suppliers. They now have three locations where you can buy both fresh-caught fish or their amazing already-made poké. Definitely come here for some of the freshest fish you can find in Oahu.
Ahi Assassins, 3111 Castle St, Honolulu, HI 96815, United States | (+1) 808 439 4045
Meant to represent both the traditional and the trendy, Poké Market’s intentions are to give their customers the best experience. Whether it’s through elevating their dishes with fresh ingredients or by handling the fish as a fine sushi restaurant would, this place will deliver a great experience.
Poké Market, 41 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, United States | (+1) 808 961 5915
Island Vintage Coffee has served 100 percent Kona coffee since 1996, and has recently started serving some of the best poké bowls in Hawaii. This perfect combination of coffee and poké makes it the perfect place to check out when wanting a cup of joe alongside some of the freshest Hawaiian Ahi.
Island Vintage Coffee, multiple locations | (+1) 808 926 5662
Ahi Poké is a California-inspired brand that works with seasonal ingredients from both land and sea. One of the main goals of the poké restaurant is to maintain its commitment to responsibly sourcing their food, whether it be from the sea or land. With over six locations throughout the United Kingdom, this is a spot to check out if you want that chill Cali vibe in the UK.
Ahi Poké, multiple locations
Island Poké started as a little stall in street food markets and grew to have its own store in Soho, London. Something special about Island Poké is that they have over 10 collaborations with other restaurants to make interesting poké bowls. The newest collab was with Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which brought about the red curry chicken and larb poke bowl. With multiple locations to choose from, Island Poké is definitely one to visit for some unique poké bowls.
Island Poké, multiple locations
A rather unknown spot for poké in London is Tombo Café, a Japanese café that serves healthy and high-quality Japanese food and tea. Using traditional Japanese ingredients and cooking styles, this spot provides authentic food in a modern and easily accessible way. Check out any of their three cafés around London and feel good after eating their delicious food.
Tombo Café, multiple locations
Founded in 2016 with the goal of changing the culture of fast food in Australia, this restaurant specialises in making poké bowls that can be customised to your liking. The restaurant follows the mantra of shokunin (職人), a Japanese term for an intense dedication to their craft. Visit their multiple locations in Sydney and Melbourne, and make the step to healthier living that is still amazingly delicious.
Fishbowl, multiple locations
With two locations in Sydney, these spots are great if you are wanting some locally sourced Australian produce. They have a range of all sorts of vegetarian poké bowls that you can customise to your liking. Definitely come here if you want to have some interesting variations of vegetarian noodles.
Nama Poké, multiple locations
In 2017, three best friends decided to open up a store that celebrated Japanese-Hawaiian cuisine in Sydney. You can enjoy some poké with a choice of proteins like tuna, prawn, and tofu. If you are looking for something even more protein-heavy, they have a spicy Korean chicken bowl that is to die for.
Poké Bros, multiple locations