Puzzled by poke?
While many food frenzies are within the scope of most people’s knowledge – say donuts or fried chicken – others are slightly less well-known and need some explanation of their awesome.
Enter poke. A staple in Hawaii, it’s essentially a salad of seasoned, sauced, raw fish that’s often served as an appetizer on the islands.
In recent years, the craze has filtered into food cities, and Chicago is no exception. You’ll now find a number of poke spots around town, the result of what the L.A. Times recently called “the latest food to be eclipsed by the Subway effect, in which you transform your sandwich, burger, burrito, pizza or salad into a my-way-or-the-highway meal.”
Interested in trying the trend? Here are just a few poke spots in the city to get you started.
Aloha Poke | West Loop – 131 N. Clinton (French Market)
With locations in downtown’s French Market, and — most recently, Lakeview — this poke spot started the craze earlier this year. Warning – those eager for a taste can find themselves with an hour-long wait for bowls. Eater Chicago suggests the Aloha bowl, combining pineapple, cucumber, scallion, jalapeno, Maui onions and sesame vinaigrette with either salmon or tuna.
Big and Little’s | Multiple locations
Sure, you can order burgers and traditional tacos, but the poke trend also pokes its way into the menu. The eatery’s three locations in River North, Wicker Park and Lakeview all offer three varieties of poke-taco hybrids, giving diners the choice of salmon, ahi tuna, or steamed blue crab.
Fin Fine Poke Shop | The Loop – 10 S. La Salle St.
What’s being hailed as the city’s first, free-standing poke shop gives visitors the choice of nearly a dozen house-crafted creations. You can get even more creative with a build-you-own bowl.
Joy District | River North – 112 W. Hubbard St.
It’s poke, your way! If you’re feeling adventurous, bypass a traditional tuna or salmon poke bowl and instead, get your fish fix by having it served inside in a crunchy waffle cone.
Mahalo | Wicker Park – 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave.
This Hawaiian-inspired spot the Wicker Park’s offers plenty of poke. Three kinds are offered on their own or as a bowl with brown rice. Choose from tuna, octopus with miso chili sauce or shrimp with mango sauce. Can’t decide? A trio option lets you try all three.