By Ryan Harding, Contributing Writer
Pleasanton is now the latest community to take part in a tropical trend that is sweeping the globe: poke. By the end of the summer, Pleasanton will be home to three poke shops dedicated to providing the newest staple in fast-casual dining, a Hawaiian dish with endless variations. Poke, pronounced “poh-kay,” is a raw fish salad that has been enjoyed by native Hawaiians since centuries before European explorers stepped foot on the islands. Originally, poke was served as an appetizer or snack made from leftover fish, but the dish underwent a transformation in the 1970s when it was first sold as a complete meal of fresh fish and seasonings in a takeaway bowl. Since then, poke has spread across the continental US and to metropolitan cities around the world, transforming to reflect the tastes of each location.
In the traditional Hawaiian style, poke is simply sliced raw fish (usually ahi tuna or salmon) topped with soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions. In modern poke shops, the central proteins range from the traditional fishes to shrimp, octopus, and even tofu, all of which can be served over rice and paired with a variety of toppings like avocado, mushrooms, and chili peppers. The poke bowls served at Pleasanton’s three poke shops, Local Poke, North Shore Poke Co., and Prime Poke, can be customized to fit anyone’s taste, and are always full of vibrant and refreshing flavors.
Poke’s current rise to fame only began about five years ago when cities along the Pacific Coast started to see poke shops pop up by the dozens. Now, there are more than twenty specialized poke restaurants in the East Bay alone. Despite poke’s rapid and recent growth, Chai Lonh, manager of North Shore Poke Co., doesn’t see this culinary trend fading away anytime soon. “Poke is a really healthy alternative to all of those burgers, fries, and other fast foods,” explained Lonh, “People want something that tastes good and is good for them.” As Californians move toward more health-centric lifestyles, raw preparations and produce-filled dishes like poke continue to grow in demand. This poke craze isn’t coming out of the blue, but rather filling the need for more quick, easy, and healthy dining options in the Bay Area. It’s no wonder that Pleasanton has jumped on the poke bandwagon – now it’s just a matter of seeing where it leads.
Local Poke is located at 6700 Santa Rita Rd in the Trader Joe’s/Cort Plaza; North Shore Poke Co. opened recently on July 1 and is located at 6786 Bernal Ave #820 in the Pleasanton Gateway Shopping Center; and Prime Poke is located in Downtown Pleasanton at 349 Main St Suite 140 and currently having their soft opening. Stop by one of these locations today and get your Poke fix!