Poké bowls are a food trend that took a while to reach our shores. This is unsurprising as the dish originates from Hawaii and has only really grown in popularity in the continental US in the last few years. The first poké restaurants opened in London around 2016 but have really taken off in the last few months, heralded by food bloggers as the summer’s best healthy lunch option.
So, what actually is poké? Traditionally, the dish consists of chunks of raw tuna, candlenuts and seaweed, but this has been updated and customised by most poké restaurants. You can stick to the classic or change the type of fish, the toppings and the veggies - and rice is now a common addition, too.
However, the greatest appeal of the trend is its reinvention of ‘fast food’. Poké offers an alternative to just another boring supermarket salad (and other unhealthier options) and is packed with nourishing and filling ingredients, all of which are extremely fresh because each bowl is made from scratch rather than in big batches that are left to sit out.
The first poké restaurants opened in London around 2016 but have really taken off in the last few months.
Other benefits include the bowl’s aesthetic - you only need to type poké into Instagram to flood your feed with colourful culinary creations. There is an ethical angle too, with most Hawaiian-themed restaurants making sure their fish is responsibly sourced and sustainably caught (as well as delicious) so you can dine in good conscience.
Now that poké has well and truly arrived in London, we have put together a list of the best places to enjoy this food phenomenon. If you can’t make it out to a physical restaurant for lunch, do not despair - most of them deliver.
Where: They have five outposts throughout London and can be found in Fitzrovia, Victoria, the City, Fulham and Spitalfields.
What makes it special: Started in 2016 after a trip to California, it brings the West Coast to the city and has an environmental edge, with ethically sourced ingredients and recyclable, biodegradable and compostable packaging.
Try: In honour of the recent weather, try the Heat Wave which combines quinoa, salmon, smashed yuzu avocado, red onion, kimchi cucumber, coriander and Sriracha mayo.
Where: You can find them in Broadgate Circle, Canary Wharf, Bank, Fitzrovia and Soho.
What makes it special: Island Poké started as a street food venture in 2015 and has kept a connection to its roots with their special BesPoké bowls, ensuring the people get exactly what they want.
Try: The best thing about the food here is you can build your bowl yourself; start with a base, add your choice of fish (or roasted beetroot as a veggie option) and finish it off with any of the 14 toppings on offer.
Where: The City and Soho.
What makes it special: The sheer variety. In addition to the more traditional tuna and salmon sashimi, they serve up tofu, octopus and chicken teriyaki too. You can also pick up a Hawaiian dessert of Kakigori (shaved ice with fruit puree) if you’re feeling indulgent.
Try: The Octo Poké. This Pacific bowl has a hint of Eastern flavour going on, with octopus, edamame, kimchi, cucumber and spring onions finished with a kimchi sauce.
What makes it special: Think poké but more high-end. The ingredients are of the highest quality and the menu reads like an up-market sushi restaurant/salad bar hybrid. It keeps all the elements of the laid-back Hawaiian dish but elevates them.
Try: Our pick of the bunch is The Boho: tiger prawn, shredded carrot, red onion, cucumber, spring onion, red chilli, spicy shoyu dressing, roasted sesame dressing, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, crispy shallots and nori seaweed with a choice of base, either sushi rice, brown rice, black rice, quinoa or kale.
Where: Soho, Fitzrovia and South Kensington
What makes it special: This is a Japanese twist on the poké trend and every dish is served up with mizuna salad, edamame, spring onions, sliced radish and cucumber. The restaurant also offers donburi bowls, super salads and green tea as well as matcha-infused desserts.
Try: The Kyoto Kaisen has salmon and tuna sashimi with citrus ponzu, avocado and crispy shallots. Follow up with matcha soft serve for a truly unforgettable lunch.
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