Poke is popping up on menus all across the city.
From poke-dedicated spots like Pokeworks, Wisefish Poke, East Coast Poke and the forthcoming Poke Spot, Hawaiian restaurants such as Noreetuh and casual destinations like Seamore’s and Sons of Thunder, you can dig in to the Hawaiian raw seafood dish at more places than ever before in the city.
Chef Jordan Andino didn’t plan to include poke on the menu at his new Filipino taqueria 2nd City, but it won his partners over.
“It’s definitely a trendy food,” said Andino, who first had the dish when he visited Hawaii as a teenager and has seen it catch on on the West Coast. “The growing popularity of poke was eventually going to hit the East Coast.”
The Poke Me at 2nd City features tuna poke over coconut steamed rice with avocado, pickled red onions, shredded carrots, crispy wontons and miso dressing.
“I wanted all the bowls to look good and taste good and be very forgiving on the butt and abs,” Andino said.
In the poke bowl in particular, “You have green, brown, red, white, orange and pink, those are some vibrant colors,” he said. “Avocado is right there, a super food, and there’s fresh fish with just miso and soy — there’s no butter used in the sauce.”
Andino gets his tuna from Fulton Fish Market (he’s a sponsored chef on Fultonfishmarket.com), ordering USA-caught wild tuna.
When on the hunt for the freshest fish at your fish monger or store, the chef recommends looking for three things: rigor mortis (“The stiffer the fish, the fresher it is”); eyes that “have a lot of water and look like they’re almost alive, otherwise they would look sunken in”; and smell. “You can always trust your own nose,” he says. “There’s a significant difference between a fresh fish smell and a rotting fish smell, no one needs to be taught that.”
Since the tuna is served raw, the bowl just involves mixing and plating — and is open to customization and experimentation.
“The beauty about the poke bowl is anyone can make it,” Andino said. “It doesn’t involve any real cooking really — you can even buy rice from a Chinese restaurant — and you can put whatever you want on it.”