Yes, it's a good time to crave a bowl of poke.
The Hawaiian staple, a simple dish of raw tuna salad, is certainly nothing new. But we've been seeing it everywhere lately, and for good reason. Poke is currently experiencing its five minutes of fame, and that means everyone has their own version, from fine-dining establishments to local seafood shacks.
The word poke — which rhymes with "okay" — basically translates to "slice" or "cut" in Hawaii, where the dish is served everywhere from the local grocer to surf shops and even gas stations. Traditionally, the name refers to any dish where raw pieces of seafood (and sometimes meat) are cut into cubes, marinated in a soy sauce and sesame oil, and mixed with chopped onion.
Today's variations go far beyond this basic construct, and poke has evolved into hundreds of variations. For example, the fish can be seared, cut into slabs instead of cubes, and topped with almost anything from wakame to avocado.
In South Florida, poke has become synonymous with our seafood-heavy, Floribbean-style fare — and there are endless varieties. Some are dressed with a creamy mayonnaise. Others are spiced up with extra seasonings. And still more are garnished with — of all things — flowers.
Here, our list of the best places to pick up a bowl of poke in Broward and Palm Beach counties:
10. Brimstone Woodfire Grill
14575 SW Fifth Street, Pembroke Pines. Call 954-430-2333, or visit brimstonewoodfiregrill.com.
The chef here gives the ubiquitous tuna poke appetizer a small twist, assembling the trilayer tower with a healthy dose of crispy wonton chips sandwiched between a heaping pile of chilled cubes of raw tuna and a thick slab of mashed avocado. It is served in a shallow bowl filled with sweet ponzu sauce that serves as a tasty dressing once the tubular stack devolves into a messy pile.
9. GG's Waterfront Grill
606 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood. Call 954-929-7030, or visit ggswaterfront.com.
At GG's Waterfront Grill in Hollywood, they're serving up one of the prettiest tuna poke dishes in South Florida. Here, a shallow bowl is presented with a neat cylinder of ahi tuna submerged in a shallow soy sauce bath, fish stacked between a top layer of diced pineapple and bottom layer of sesame-studded wakame salad. Sure, it may look like a slightly fancier poke, but it's got one thing that sets it apart from every other out there: a single, bright orchid bloom for a finishing touch.
8. Bao Bar & Asian Kitchen
1200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-530-4176, or visit baolasolas.com.
Not everything has to be a riff on the original recipe. At Bao Bar & Asian Kitchen in downtown Fort Lauderdale. you'll find a traditional tuna poke presentation listed under the menu's "raw" items. The dish combines massive ruby-hued cubes of ahi tuna covered with black sesame seeds, diced avocado, and topped with seaweed salad.
7. Blue Moon Fish Co.
4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-267-9888, or visit bluemoonfishco.com.
As far as classic poke goes, it doesn't get more real than Blue Moon Fish Co. in Fort Lauderdale. The dish is served in a shallow martini glass, fat cubes of ahi tuna seasoned with a light ponzu-soy wash and mixed with diced cucumber, toasted sesame seeds, avocado, and fresh cilantro.
6. Ocean's 234
234 N. Ocean Blvd., Deerfield Beach. Call 954-428-2539, or visit oceans234.com.
Ocean's 234 in Deerfield Beach offers a sushi section where you can also find the restaurant's new tuna stack, the chef's take on a tuna poke. It's served in a heaping portion, fat cubes of
5. Burlock Coast
1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-302-6460, or visit ritzcarlton.com.
The Burlock Coast raw bar highlights this Ritz-Carlton restaurant's extensive seafood sourcing with its ever-popular twist on the tuna poke. While it's a dish so many menus include, it can be hard to "wow" us anymore. But here, the poke tartare becomes an exercise in arts and crafts, an interactive eating experience filed under the menu's "Shares for Sure" section. The flesh of the tuna is diced into fine cubes, served in a ceramic jar with a delicate spoon the length of your pinky, and beside a basket of fried plantain chips. The extra touch here is the artist's paint tube of lime and cilantro aioli that you're meant to squeeze across each dollop of fish.
4. Kapow! Noodle Bar
431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-347-7322, or visit kapownoodlebar.com.
After a brief hiatus, the tuna poke has returned as an all-star appetizer at Kapow! Today, the dish
3. Brule Bistro
200 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-274-2046, or visit brulebistro.com.
Despite a constantly changing menu, a mainstay on the Brule Bistro lineup has been the tuna poke. Considered a favorite dish by many, the chef's execution is an umami, salty, sweet concoction. Fat cubes of tuna are seared just long enough to lock in the blackening spice, mixed with chunks of fresh avocado, toasted macadamia nut, and doused in a rich brown-sugar-sweetened soy and sesame oil marinade. For an extra layer of flavor, a fragrant soy glaze made from reduced mirin rice wine and just a touch of pungent basil oil pack the final punch. In a death match against the finest poke dish in Palm Beach County, Brule's certainly takes the win.
2. Johnny V's
625 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-761-7920, or visit johnnyvlasolas.com.
At Johnny V's in Fort Lauderdale, you can find a special tuna poke filed away as "Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna" on the restaurant's lunch menu. The dish is a pleasing combination of fresh big eye tuna cubes smothered in a scallion and sesame soy sauce with a touch of Sriracha and finished with toasted macadamia nuts. The best part: In place of the usual hard-edged chips, the dish is served with a soft, lavash-style flatbread.
1. 3030 Ocean
3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-765-3030, or visit 3030ocean.com.
3030 Ocean executive chef Adrienne Grenier's ahi tuna poke — what seems like a go-to menu option for so many seafood-centered eateries — is executed perfectly.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.
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