Taking a look at the Hawaiian poke food phenomenon making its way through Southern California and the San Fernando Valley.
If you’re a current resident of the Golden State living on the glitz-and-glam outskirts of L.A. and haven’t yet heard about Hawaiian poke (pronounced “POH-kay”), don’t fret – you’re bound to very soon. A wave of restaurants serving this Hawaiian raw food specialty are preparing to crash onto the dining scenes of such American continental metropolises as New York and Los Angeles in a big way, bringing with it what many industry insiders are calling the next new phenomenon in fast-casual eating. Indeed, fancy salad bars and Chipotle, take notice: Your days may be numbered.
As a mix of raw cubes of seafood, typically ahi tuna or salmon, in a soy sauce-based marinade, poke is often garnished with seaweed, cucumber, avocado or tobiko and served over rice or greens. While the food is somewhat ubiquitous in the Aloha State – it can be picked up at pretty much any grocery store or even gas station in Hawaii – it is relatively new to the lush shores off such Southern Cali locales as Malibu and Santa Monica, immediately being likened to “deconstructed, flavorful sushi.” Of course, because it is considered generally healthy, endlessly customizable and “very pretty,” poke is poised to become quite the hit with body and appearance-conscious Californians.
This new dining trend’s influence has been making itself known from Los Angeles Proper down towards Venice Beach, with a handful of new poke spots opening as of late in the San Fernando Valley. Our expert editorial staff has rounded up some of the more noteworthy poke in Woodland Hills in case you want to extend your palate to encompass a Hawaiian-esque form of sushi.
Poke Tiki serves Hawaiian-styled sushi bowls that are delectable, with combinations of fresh fish and choice of rice or salad guaranteed to light your poke fire for the first time. Choose from various sizes of bowls, with the large equating to five massive scoops of your choice of fish with brown rice, cucumber, green onion, avocado, double masago and spicy mayo, and revel in the sumptuous overtones of the flavorful poke sauce. Like some of the other poke spots popping up around L.A., Poke Tiki attempts to be as authentic as possible with reasonable prices and mega-fresh ingredients.
Honeyfish Poke has taken the poke concept to a whole new customizable level with variations on tuna, yellowtail, albacore, salmon, shrimp, cooked crabmeat, cooked lobster meat and tofu, as well as a variety of toppings and sauces that can satisfy any palate. Stop in for an amazingly affordable lunch with co-workers, where you can choose from three proteins – such as salmon, spicy tuna and albacore (for a regular-sized bowl; choose four in a large) – plus up to five toppings and dressing…everything comes mixed in a bowl, ready to eat. We can honestly say…poke in Woodland Hills has never tasted so fresh.
8 Oz Poke is L.A.’s new build-your-own poke spot run by pleasant and patient owners who are ready to answer all novice’s questions about sauces, sides and toppings (such as the customer-favorite fried garlic and onions). Once you get on a poke craze yourself, you’ll be returning to 8 Oz Poke again and again for the way the staff hand-mixes your choice of proteins with your preferred sauces before putting it in your bowl…or how the delicious yellowtail and salmon simply scream “freshness”…or for the quality of the proteins with cuts larger than most any other poke joint…or for the sheer number of selections…or…well, you get the point.
As of late, there’s been some hubbub about a Sweetfin Poke coming to the Woodland Hills area after founders Seth Cohen, Alan Nathan and Brett Nestadt opened the first location in Santa Monica in 2015. With a menu of healthful bowls starting at around $9, the restaurant offers albacore or yellowfin tuna, salmon or snapper over a base of bamboo rice or kelp noodle-cucumber slaw, with vegan and vegetable-based opinions also available and sauces that include creamy togarashi, yuzu kosho and sriracha ponzu and toppings like avocado, seaweed and jalapeno. According to owner Cohen, five more Sweetfin Poke locations are expected to open in the L.A. area this year, including three that have been under construction.
As always, our ever-curious eyes will keep a watch on these developments, and we’ll be sure to let you know about any possible Sweetfin openings in or around The Village at Westfield.
There’s a middle ground between quick salad bowls and the more calorie-laden offerings from the likes of Chipotle, and poke bowls fit that niche very nicely. After all, they’re flavor-packed, loaded with protein and don’t taste like you’re consuming “rabbit food”…while all the while remaining light and healthy. If you’ve been looking to try some poke in Woodland Hills, the locations highlighted in this roundup will satisfy that curiosity…and then some.