Poke is one of this year’s hottest food trends, and its exceptional flavor guarantees that this trend is here to stay. Rather than other “trendy” foods that look “OMG so drool-worthy” on Instagram but taste “Eh, I guess it’s fine,” poke bowls are really, truly “bomb.com.” They’re essentially deconstructed sushi with way more bells and whistles, making them a filling and delicious meal. One of Southern California’s hottest Poke joints is The Poke Shack, dishing out Hawaiian style poke at three locations in Los Angeles – two in Venice Beach and one on Melrose Ave.
I stopped by the Melrose location to check out what all of the hype was about. The Poke Shack puts a new twist on a Hawaiian invention, letting you customize the ‘Lil Daddy’ (small) ‘Big Daddy’ (medium) however you want. I went for the Big Daddy: when it came to picking salmon or ahi tuna for my bowl, I opted for both. Had I been watching my figure I could’ve made my bowl ‘Hawaiian Style’ which means no rice, mo’ juicy fish. I love poke, but a bowl of 100% poke can be too much of a good thing in my opinion. Diversify your bowl so you don’t overdose on raw fish. A lil’ rice is nice, or choose greener options such as seaweed salad or organic kale as base options.
We opted for brown rice, which my friend noted tasted so fresh, “like my mama made it this morning!” The Poke Shack outshines other poke places by offering a huge variety of over 20 gourmet toppings. I piled on charred pineapple, crispy garlic, edamame, cilantro kale, carrots, masago, avocado plus sesame seeds and macadamia nuts for crunch. While these span a wide range of flavors, they manage to achieve a wonderful harmony.
Then you get a sauce. The sauce is the real M.V.P, the player that defines rules the taste of your whole bowl. I panicked when it came to this high-stakes decision between Sriracha aioli, house shoyu, wasabi shoyu and crunchy garlic so I just copied the person in front of me in line. Luckily he knew what he was doing with the house shoyu, which allows the bowl’s flavors to shine through. My friend chose the thicker Sriracha aioli and was surprised by how spicy it was. Sidenote: Sriracha is a hot sauce. To her credit, the aioli versus the shoyu has a much more intense taste. Its creamy base means that it can overpower some of the ingredients in the bowl. My recommendation would be to go crazy with the toppings and dress it with shoyu, or be more selective with your toppings and go for the spicy aioli. While we might refine our personalization of the poke bowls next time we eat at the Poke Shack, we still devoured our bowls in less than ten minutes. All combinations of toppings are marvelous, as evidenced by scoping out the other poke eaters and realizing their bowls had also been licked clean.
You can’t get any more authentic than the Poke Shack’s delicious bowls. They bring island hospitality to Los Angeles, serving up the freshest fish with a big smile. I liked that the store felt like a fusion between Hawaii and LA: the menu was inspired by the islands but includes Cali staples like avocado. Then the tables were crafted out of rustic wood, but the store included LA Instagram-beckoning touches: succulents as table toppers plus a gleaming Poke Shack neon sign. Mahalo for the best poke in town!
Address: 7257 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, Estados Unidos (reviewed location)
Hours: 11:00 – 00:00 (Melrose location)