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Nov 12, 2012 10:38 AM

San Diego Poke

Anyone that has been to Hawaii has probably had some sort of Poke, with Ahi poke probably being the favorite and most ubiquitous. I recently had Spicy Ahi Poke from Eskimo Candy in Maui that puts everything else I've had to shame. I have had the Poke from Encinitas Sushi Lounge and from Blue Water Grill and while both were pretty good, they just didn't have da Island flava. So Hounds, who has your favorite Ahi Poke or any other Poke for that matter?

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  1. I like the one at Sushi Yaro in Kearny Mesa. Sammy, the chef/owner, is from Hawaii IIRC.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mayache

      Thanks for the sound hound advice. I havn't eaten there before. How's every thing else?

      1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

        Pretty consistently good as a casual kind of place, good fish and fun atmosphere. I love Kaito, but can only afford it as a special occasion place.

    2. I don't think it's possible to find good poke on the mainland.

      That said, have you tried MItsuwa in KM?

      1. Bristol Farms usually has a couple good ones freshly made.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bizzwriter

          Thanks, just looked on line and they do a Spicy Ahi poke and an Albacore Poke that sounds pretty good. I'll have to get to La Jolla and check it out.

          I just found the results from San Diego's "I Love Poke" contest held last may. Obviously Primo Brewing isn't a local place and Hapa J's is a San Clemente place. Still, I haven't tried Poke from Gaijin or Peohe's. Has anyone else?

          Traditional: 1st: Primo Brewing and Malting Company (Chef James Harris) 2nd: Hapa J’s Kitchen Bar Lounge (Chef Justin Shea) 3rd: Peohe’s (Chef David Bland)

          Any Kine:
 1st: Gai Jin Noodle + Sake House (Chef Antonio Friscia) 2nd: Hapa J’s Kitchen Bar Lounge (Chef Justin Shea) 3rd: Peohe’s (Chef David Bland)

          1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

            BTW, according to the guy behind the counter at Bristol Farms, they recently switched from ahi to albacore in their poke because the price has been on a steep incline lately.

        2. Agree with Ipsy that finding good poke is tough on the mainland.
          I usually make my own with fresh Ahi from Costco but have had decent Ahi poke at the Bali Hai.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Thanks, for the tip. In all the years I have lived here, I've never made it to Bali Hai. Unbelievable right? I've always considered it a tourist trap. I was reconsidering that stance and then they lost their new and promising chef. Have they found anybody to replace him?

          2. Poke is not one of those difficult things to make.... I buy the freshest ahi I can from Whole Foods or Bristol Farms and make it.

            7 Replies
            1. re: scottca075

              I agree, it's easy to make plus, I'm very leary about those displays in the markets which are exposed to the elements, insects etc.

              1. re: scottca075

                Do you have a favorite recipe that you can share?

                1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                  1/2 lb ahi cubed
                  1/4 cup Aloha Shoyu
                  1/4 cup of a Maui onion (sub Vidalia) sliced
                  2 stalks green onion - tops only
                  1/4 cup ogo chopped
                  Hawaiian sea salt to taste
                  2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
                  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
                  Optional 2 tsp furikake

                  I use Aloha soy sauce instead of Kikkoman or Yamasa because it tastes more like "Hawaii" to me.

                  To make it spicy, add wasabi paste to the shoyu before adding the ahi and maybe some red chili pepper flakes.

                  Part of the fun is making it up as you go along. I've used ginger paste, fresh grated ginger, hot chili oil, garlic paste, minced jalapeno, finely chopped macadamia nuts, finely chopped inamona (if you can find it) and more..... mind you I have used the "other" ingredients at different times, not all at once...

                  1. re: scottca075

                    Thanks Scott,

                    I will definitely give this a go, as I know my whole family likes Poke. The only thing I don't have or even know where to find is the kuku'i nut. Maybe I can find it at Marukai? The other thing I would need is a good quality seaweed. Is there a particular brand or type that you like best? Also, perhaps at Marukai?

                    1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                      I regularly make my own poke, using items from our weekly pilgrimage to Marukai. They have everything you need, though I don't know about the kuku'i nuts (aka inamona -- maybe try Motu Hawaii in PB?). I prefer to get my ahi at Costco ($13.99/pound for wild caught), but I do usually buy wild-caught albacore at Marukai ($12.99/pound). The last couple of visits they have had fresh ogo seaweed from Japan, which made me very happy to find. If Marukai doesn't happen to have ogo on your visit, they always carry a couple other varieties of fresh seaweed, though be careful because some of them are very salty and need to be rinsed well before use. I usually also buy a little container of flying fish eggs (tobiko) and throw them in too for a little extra flavor and snap.

                      Here are a couple more pretty good-looking recipes, though like Scott I enjoy making it up as I go along:



                      Last but not least, this website has a LOT of great close-up photos of different pokes from around the Hawaiian Islands -- might inspire some ideas:


                    2. re: scottca075

                      how long do you guys normally marinate your Poke before digging in?

                      1. re: MrKrispy

                        We eat it fairly quickly because we usually can't wait. Being from the islands, I prefer to make my own.
                        I usually get my fish from Catalina Offshore or Costa Mesa or Gardena. I love the San Diego location, but the fish department is off and on....more off. Once in a while I'll see something from the seafood department worth buying.
                        Ogo is a problem. Marukai sells very low quality, old ogo, having to be shipped from Hawaii/Japan. Even if it's edible, it's only suitable for ogo-namasu.It wasn't that way a couple of years ago, but seems to be the norm for the present.
                        A couple of months ago, I got some ogo from Carlsbad Oysterfarms booth at the farmer;s market. They were trying to raise it locally. I'm not sure if they still are.
                        Shoyu is quite important and I vary depending on which type I'm making. If it's a basic shoyu poke with perhaps grated ginger and a bit of garlic, I'll go with a touch of Whole Bean Kikkoman. Otherwise, it's Aloha Shoyu.

                        Funny story, when Sam from Sushi Yaro was still at Katzra, after a "loooong" evening he closed shop and I taught him how to make your basic poke. He'll deny it though.

                        Every established nationality in Hawaii has influenced poke, so once you've got the basic version down, you can just go for it.