Poke is (more than) okay

Metro re­porter tries trendy Hawai­ian fish salad

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Edmonton - Kashmala Fida

De­spite be­ing from the Mar­itimes, where fish is ev­ery­where, and to the sur­prise of all three peo­ple I know in Ed­mon­ton, I’ve never tried poke.

But the tra­di­tional Hawai­ian fish salad has be­come pop­u­lar in land­locked Ed­mon­ton, with two lo­ca­tions re­cently open­ing back to back.

To see what the fuss was about, I hit up the city’s two new poke joints, Splash Poke on 109 Street and Ono Poke Co. on 104 Street.

Turns out, it’s not like any- thing I’ve eaten be­fore, but def­i­nitely de­li­cious.

The word poke (pro­nounced like “okay” with a “P”) means “to cut” or “to slice” which refers to the way the fish is sliced. It’s usu­ally served salad-style, on top of veg­eta­bles and grains.

It was like eat­ing sushi, but fussier, re­quir­ing chop­sticks to gather all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether. And it was kind of like eat­ing a salad but not re­ally be­cause I don’t like sal­ads and I liked this.

It was def­i­nitely re­fresh­ing, fill­ing and felt healthy.

In Hawai­ian cul­ture, poke is tra­di­tion­ally served as an ap­pe­tizer and oc­ca­sion­ally as a main dish. It started pop­ping up in the main­land United States in about 2012, al­though like every­thing Amer­i­can it was served in a ca­sual fast-food style, with op­tions to cus­tom­ize.

Ed­mon­ton’s two new poke places have a sim­i­lar vibe, and boast poke with mod­ern in­gre­di­ents.

My “clas­sic” poke from Splash had rice topped with sea­weed, corn, cubed salmon with bits of gar­lic and came with an ar­ray of sauces of which the tangy sesame was my favourite.

The bowl was a mix of flavours and tex­tures. It was slip­pery and chewy (be­cause of the salmon and sea­weed) but also crunchy (from all the veg­gies and roasted gar­lic). There was a lot go­ing on in one bowl, but it wasn’t over­whelm­ing.

At Ono, I de­cided to switch things up and get quinoa in­stead of rice. This dish, called Un­cle Tom’s Surf Poke, came with ahi tuna, edamame beans, cu­cum­ber, bits of pasta, all topped with caviar. It was a lot more greens and a lot crunchier than the first one.

Both poke were de­li­cious and a much bet­ter op­tion for fast food than burg­ers and fries.

Ten out of 10, would rec­om­mend to any­one who isn’t grossed out by raw fish

Kevin Tuong/meTro

Metro re­porter Kashmala Fida tries out some Poke at Splash Poke

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