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Jan 27, 2013 04:17 AM

Hawaiian Poke in the City

We just got back from Kauai, and had some amazing ahi and tako poke. Any idea where to get something like it in the city?

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  1. I don't think you'll be able to find tako (octopus) poke in NYC.

    But according to their menus, the following places have poke:

    Bar Americain - "Yellowtail Poke, Hawaiian Flavors" - um, OK
    Beauty & Essex - "Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos"
    Brasserie 1605
    Gyu Kaku
    Hakata Grill
    Hurricane Club - poke salad
    Lure Fishbar
    Teqa - poke tacos
    Tommy Bahama - ahi poke napolean
    Viktor & Spoils - poke taquitos

    I've never tried the poke at any of these. Please report back if you do! I used to go to the now-closed Lani Kai for ahi tuna poke but it was very expensive.

    I think it is hard to find traditional, good, Hawaiian food in NYC because there aren't that many Hawaiians living here, and many people do their winter getaways in Florida, Mexico, or the Caribbean instead. Add on the people who go to Hawaii and eat only chain/crappy resort food and those who still refuse to eat raw fish, and the demand for poke outside of Hawaii will not be very high.

    It's easy to make it yourself, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Wonderful information - thanks! I knew it would be a long shot. We'll search out the poke at these places and let you know what we find!

    2. Yours truly is from Hawaii and knows every poke place in Hawaii and where to find the best there. Living in NYC I also am always searching for any great fish dish even reminiscent of what poke should be. The closest I have come to someone replicating the true flavor(s) and importanly the fresh texture of great poke is at Rouge Tomate. It's usually on their menu under-"poke"! Sometimes they mix fresh corn kernels into it and one might at first find that to be an odd ingredient but it truly does work. Bottom line if you want truly great poke like you find in Hawaii -you must go to the source or make it yourself. The most important thing is using very fresh sushi grade tuna if you are making the traditional tuna poke. Google for the many variations of poke making using other fish as well. Variations include salmon, octopus, clams etc. but the traditional one is made from tuna.If travelling to the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawaii CH site has several hits on where to find the best ones there. Aloha!

      8 Replies
      1. re: UES Mayor

        The current Rouge Tomate menu that is online doesn't have poke, it has:
        Hawaiian Walu Crudo
        Avocado / Yuzu / Soy / Jicama / JalapeƱo / Lemongrass-Ginger Oil 18

        UES Mayor, do you have a recipe for tuna poke that you like?

        1. re: kathryn

          either of these recipes below are great-one uses soy sauce and the other not-best to use granular type salt such as Hawaiian red salt which doesn't make dish so salty-just tasty. Kukui nut would be impossible to find here-instead I use finely chopped macadamia nuts which give a similar silky texture. Even rough chopped nuts of various types are great-though not traditional as an ingredient, it tastes great!

          1. re: UES Mayor

            Have you ever been able to find limu here? Thanks for the tips! When I try mac nuts instead of inamona it never tastes quite like what I've had in Hawaii, though.

            1. re: kathryn

              never found limu here. You might want to inquire w higher end sushi restaurants where they source their's from.

              1. re: UES Mayor

                BTW I don't mean to imply limu=seaweed- there are many different kinds of seaweed that are edible. The limu (seaweed) used in poke making in Hawaii I believe can only be found in Hawaii. Another type of seaweed would not be exactly right but then again you don't need to put any in at all! If you really want authentic, try calling Tamashiro Market or Marukai Market and arrange to have it shipped to you. hmmmmm-I may just do that myself.

                1. re: UES Mayor

                  You should get a ton and re-sell it to CHs in NYC who want to make their own poke!

                2. re: UES Mayor

                  I was able to find dried ogo as part of Noh's Poke Seasoning packets, sold on Amazon.

                  After some research, I realized that kukui nut as known also as candle nuts or kemiri in Indonesian or buah keras in Malay. AND Kalustyan's carries candlenuts!

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Reporting back -- I made poke for a party at home this past weekend. Ordered Noh's Poke Seasoning packets from Amazon (a poke seasoning mix with chili pepper flakes, Hawaiian salt, and dried ogo). Reconstituted the ogo in warm water. Got raw candle nuts (aka kemiri nuts aka kukui nuts) from Kalustyan's. Roasted them at home in a small frying pan, and then crushed.

                    Worked out great with some sashimi grade tuna from Eataly. Used a little soy sauce (not too much), sesame oil, sesame seeds, sweet onion, lots of scallions, the Noh's poke seasoning packet, and the crushed candle nuts. I was mainly riffing off the 2nd recipe on this page:

        2. I know you requested restaurants that serve poke and I don't live in Manhattan so am not much help with that, but I too fell in love with poke after a trip to Hawaii. If you can find sashimi grade tuna, it's simple to make at home and you can vary the ingredients as you wish. Many a nights, SO and I have made a huge batch of poke, grabbed some chopsticks and gone to down for hours over a night, it's addicting and so refreshing.

          1. Love the stuff. I just make it at home with either sushi-grade salmon or tuna. I don't add the limu and kukui nuts. I generally throw in some chopped scallions, soy (tamari, braggs, whatever), salt, cubed avocado, chopped sweet onions, sesame oil, chopped ginger and garlic. Served over rice with a veggie on the side, it's a really easy and pretty healthful quick meal.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              Yes, we go very simple as well - soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, white and/or yellow onions, sesame seeds, garlic and occasionally a dash of red pepper flakes.

              In Hawaii we loved to eat it with a side of white rice sprinkled with Furikake seasoning but at home we often just eat the fish and skip the rest.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Miss Needle-Salmon has to be deep frozen for about a week to kill parasites indigenous to Salmon. It annoys me to no end when I order sushi for peolpe who think they can just chop up fish and call it "fresh" sushi. I usually only trust the Japanese chefs who truly know how to care for the fish they serve as sushi.


                1. re: UES Mayor

                  Yup, I hear you. I'm pretty choosy about where I get my salmon. I got a bit peeved when I went to Fish Tales in Brooklyn and they had no idea what sushi grade salmon was.


                  Now I generally have some packets of Vital Choice wild salmon in freezer at all times.

              2. Mahalo, everyone! It looks like I'll probably make it at home. Luckily, I grabbed some red salt when I was in Kauai. Is there a good source for sushi-grade ahi in the city? I live in LIC, but could travel wherever I need to.

                7 Replies
                1. re: cam295

                  Red salt...that is the 1 ingredient I wish we could incorporate into our dish. I am tempted to buy some from Penzey's.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Trader Joes gets it once in a while.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Kalustyan's has red salt from Hawaii.

                    2. re: cam295

                      Ask for the "sashimi grade" tuna at Whole Foods. I don't think all of them have it. It is usually in the back/not on display, if they do. Another good source is Eataly. Their tuna is gorgeous. But very pricey.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I agree it looks completely different from the tuna that I get at H Mart although it's 50% more expensive. Also as I like to sear tuna sometimes I wished they'd cut the filets thicker.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          to sear tuna is a crime!!! I only consume tuna if it's fresh and raw! otherwise-here kitty kitty

                          1. re: UES Mayor

                            Respectfully disagree. Tuna seared very quickly-45 seconds to max 90 seconds is delicious to me in its own right and nothing like cat food though I can't say I'm too familiar with the delicacies of felines