The Hawaiian fishermen who first made poke couldn’t have known it, but their dish, intended as a quick meal between catches, is so Bondi it could have been invented by an Instagram fitspo influencer/yoga instructor. For one thing, its colourful ingredients photograph beautifully; for another, it’s a bowl of raw-food goodness that even paleo hacks and sugar-quitters have to love. But don’t let that turn you off. Poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is delicious, like a cross between a deconstructed sushi roll and Peruvian ceviche. Its main ingredient is generally raw fish and traditionally it’s dressed simply with sesame seeds, seaweed, soy sauce, shallots and crushed candlenuts. Cheffed up versions are an anything-goes affair and it’s common to find rice or noodles, fermented vegies, avocado, coconut milk dressing and more. Come with us on an island holiday into the world of poke in Sydney.
This hole-in-the-wall serves big bowls of authentic poke, quick sticks. The owners of Poke were inspired by the healthy fast food’s ubiquity in Hawaii on a holiday and made it their mission to bring the fast and fresh food to Sydney. The menu comprises six poke bowls that come in three different sizes for varying degrees of hunger. The ingredients are local and seasonal and shine in dishes such as Coconut Delight: white fish cured in coconut milk and citrus with seasonal vegies.
Shop 3, 55 Dudley Street, Coogee; (02) 9664 8643
Fishbowl Sashimi Bar
OK, they’re calling it a sashimi bowl but Fishbowl should really cop to the truth: they’re serving up heavenly bowls of poke – albeit with a more heavily Japanese spin than most. The concept here is to build your own: choose a base (brown rice, kombu rice, cabbage or glass noodles) then a protein (salmon, tuna, kingfish or tofu), four vegie toppings, a dressing (the options are plentiful but we like the sound of coconut and lime) then add some crunch with wasabi peas, furikake, toasted coconut, tobiko or macadamia.
180 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Salmon & Bear
The poke menu is short and very sweet at this casual order-at-the-counter restaurant. Salmon & Bear’s four options include cooked prawn poke with a lemon and coconut sauce; and raw tuna in a chilli and lemongrass dressing with kimchi and seaweed salad. Choice made, take a seat to await a bowl of fluffy coconut rice topped with the poke of your choice. If you really want to extend the holiday, order a Messina treat from the dessert menu (we’d go the Bear – chocolate gelato cookie sandwich).
6 Defries Avenue, Zetland; (02) 9662 8188
266 King Street, Newtown; (02) 9517 3200
These coffee-connoisseurs are also poke-pushers – on the menu at Showbox Coffee, among café fare such as Serrano ham and scrambled egg rolls, chicken salad with broccolini and basil oil, is a serious poke bowl. The Venice Beach Poke is made up of wasabi soy tuna sashimi, wild rice, wakame, pickled ginger, avocado, soft-boiled egg and macadamia for crunch. Who needs more options when this one’s got the lot?
19 Whistler Street, Manly; (02) 9976 5000
Poke at this Japanese eatery tastes like sushi took a tropical holiday and came back in a Hawaiian shirt and hair braids. The signature Kobe seafood poke is cubes of sashimi (kingfish, salmon, tuna) marinated in poke sauce (soy, mirin, sesame oil, shichimi spice mix) and topped with garlic chips, avocado, seaweed and sprouts. Eat with chopsticks – a lei is optional.
29 Lime Street, Sydney; (02) 9299 5290