Ok, Whats Poke? Let’s Set the Record Straight!

By May 6, 2022Blog
Ok, Whats Poke? Let's Set the Record Straight!

Just based on the fact that you have asked “whats poke” means that you very well might have some good taste. You might like sushi. You might have tried sashimi. And if you’re here asking whats poke, you’re on the right track. You’ve heard the good word and you’re ready to take the next step on your fresh fish journey. But whats poke exactly? It’s time to set the record straight.

We won’t hold it against you that you haven’t tried it before, as poke dishes really haven’t been around the continental United States for that long. As a fan of sushi since the age of 4, my first trip to Hawaii was extra special when I learned about the gospel of poke. What’s that you say?? Raw fish? No rice? Seasoned perfectly? And wow, what a price!

However, not everyone is lucky enough to travel to Hawaii. 20 years ago you would be hard-pressed to find a poke bowl place in an area like Reno. Now, Poke has hit the local restaurant scene in a big way. We’ve hit the big time folks! And while it has been a common dish served on the Hawaiian Islands for some time, it has only been in the last 10 years or so that it has become a common dish served stateside. But what is poke exactly? Why has it gotten so popular? And what’s it like? Well, let’s find out!

Whats Poke and How is Poke Served?

Poke, pronounced (POH-kay) means in Hawaiian “cut into chunks” and in Japanese poke means “cut into pieces.” A normal Poke dish is served in a bowl with chunks of fish tossed over rice. This is where the “Poke Bowl” term comes from. The types of both the fish and the rice are highly customizable, with both cooked and uncooked fish options.

Sometimes, poke may just be the raw fish or a combo of raw fish, onions, and sources. That really depends on the chef and the place you’re picking up your poke. If you’re familiar with the wonderful world of sushi, poke is very similar to sashimi, in that the focus is mostly on the raw fish rather than the other ingredients. However, when we’re talking poke bowls, we circle back around to include many of the same ingredients you’d find in your favorite sushi long rolls and hand rolls. Just in a bowl!

When we’re serving a poke bowl, we’ll usually start with a base of greens, kale, or rice (either white or brown depending on preference). After the selected rice is placed into the bowl as the “base” of the dish and the fish option has been selected, there are a great many different sauces and seasonings that can go into a poke bowl. Often you will find that many different kinds of vegetables and seasonings are added to poke bowls to give the dish even more variety. In fact, a poke bowl can include all sorts of fruits, veggies, legumes, and toppings to dress up and customize your bowl.

Who Might Enjoy Poke?

First off, if you’re not a fan of raw fish, then good old-fashioned poke (the raw stuff), may not be your thing. In fact, the thought of raw fish may disgust you. To this day, my little sister still can’t stand seafood, which I’m totally fine with. After all, more for me! But speaking of people like my sister, if you’re not into seafood in general, again, poke in its traditional form may not be your cup of tea (or bowl of fish in this instance). The cool thing about today’s modern poke bowls is that they’re not all raw fish. There are other options for the less diverse or pickier pallets. Chicken. Shrimp. Tofu. Imitation Crab. There are plenty of options.

Taste & Texture

Poke’s taste and texture really depend on the type of fish (or alternative protein) you select. I usually describe raw ahi as a bit flakey, cool, and subtle. When you add spice to it, it absorbs the flavor beautifully and makes for what I consider to be the best poke fish option. Salmon, on the other hand, is a bit more firm and typically described as having a buttery flavor and texture. Octopus is not for everyone. Even the biggest sushi fanatics might not be fans of octopus (or squid for that matter), as they are on the chewier side and much more firm than any of the finned poke fish. Those are the three more exotic options. I think we’re all aware of what shrimp and chicken taste like.

The sauces and additional options you stir into your poke mixture will also change the taste and texture. There are an endless array of spicy, sweet, savory, and citrusy sauces available to mix with your fish. All of them are delicious but some compliment different types of fish better than others. Salmon works best with lighter, herb-based or citrus-based causes. Possibly more of the creamy-based sauces. However, something like tuna works well with spicy sauces and sweet sauces much better, at least in my opinion. Mayo-based sauces are also complimentary to tuna. Furthermore, if you’re a veggie-lover, you’ll happily add cucumbers, green onions, and purple onions to the mix. However, if you’re not a fan of the flavor or texture of onions, you’ll want to leave those out and stick to pure fish and sauce.

A Sushi Alternative Worth Raving About

When trying to figure out who might find poke to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, my first inclination is to say, anyone who loves sushi! I’ve said it a million times before but I LOVE ME SOME SUSHI. Anyone who’s found the all-you-can-eat Reno sushi bars to be their “happy place” will understand the raw fish cravings are no joke. And if that sounds like you, there’s pretty much no reason why you wouldn’t love poke. In fact, considering the hefty portions of fish we offer in our poke bowls, you’ll likely get far more fish than you would at a sit-down sushi restaurant. After all, you don’t have to deal with all the rice that they try to sneak in your rolls to fill you up before you can eat that sweet, sweet fish.

But this brings me to another thing worth mentioning. The rice! While I love rice, it’s a carb-heavy main ingredient that fills you up fast and blows through calorie allotments. For anyone trying to watch their calorie intake or cut carbs, rice is a big problem for sushi lovers. There’s pretty much a rule at every Reno sushi restaurant about wasting rice. You’ll get charged for it if you don’t eat it. So what’s a carb-conscious sushi lover to do? BINGO – Poke! Get your bowls rice-free and you’ll be sitting pretty.

Whats Poke Without All the Fixins? 

What makes a poke bowl so great is all of the various options and ingredients you can add to it. You can literally make your poke bowl to be your perfect snack or meal that is just right for you, with all your favorite ingredients. Below we’ll go over what goes into a typical poke bowl here at Pola Poke, but remember you can choose whatever tickles your fresh fish fancy!

Brown & White Rice

Your standard go-to “base” for a poke bowl will be a layer of jasmine rice. If you don’t specify what kind of base you want when customizing a poke bowl, more often than not this is what you will get. Here at Pola Poke, we offer a Build Your Own Bowl (BYOB) menu option where you can select brown rice, white rice, kale, or mixed greens when customizing your perfect poke bowl. Typically, by default, we’ll add white rice to any bowl under the greens. And a little tip: Ask for all the rice at the bottom of the bowl and not off to the edge. You’ll find it slowly soaks up all the flavors and makes for a delightful finish to your poke bowl experience. 

Now when it comes to your choice of rice (or lack thereof), that’s totally up to you. Again, we start with white rice by default. However, some customers who may prefer the flavor, texture, and nutritional benefits of brown rice may opt for that as well. It’s said by many that the warm rice is a perfect juxtaposition against the super cold fish of the poke bowl. That’s how we do things here at Pola Poke. Some places will offer zucchini noodles and kelp salad as a base for your poke bowl as low-carb options. Here at Pola Poke, we offer kale and mixed greens and can load up on them if you’re leaving out the rice. 


The fish option of your poke bowl is the heart and soul of the dish. For any reputable poke restaurante in Reno, the fish will be the highest grade, freshest fish available so that the poke bowl really pops. The best poke restaurants will cut their own fresh fish and not purchase prepackaged or presliced fish. At Pola Poke, we slice our fish and octopus by hand so that our customers get the freshest poke experience possible.

Normally, the go-to fish option will be raw yellowfin (ahi) tuna. That’s a personal favorite of mine, especially when it’s spiced up a bit! Here at Pola Poke, we offer raw regular and spicy tuna as well as, octopus, and salmon as protein options in our BYOB menu. If raw fish isn’t your thing, there are cooked options including chicken and shrimp. Some places serve tofu or imitation crab as substitutes, but Pola Poke offers both of these as additional toppings. In other words, you can pack your favorite proteins on top of one another, stack that bowl with tasty goodness, and get your money’s worth. If you want shrimp, chicken, tofu, and crab, you got it!

Seasonings, Dressings, and Veggies

After you have selected the fish and base options, now comes the fun part. The seasonings may seem like a non-important part of your poke bowl, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Along with the dressings and veggies, these options are what are going to really make or break your poke bowl. In our BYOB menu, we have many different options like cucumber, edamame, roasted beets, pickled ginger, green onions, purple onions, mangos, avocado, and much more. In fact, we have one of the largest topping selections for our poke bowls in all of Reno & Sparks.

But that’s not all! Don’t forget the sauces. Frequently, we have between 10-15 sauces for your to choose from and new ones coming out all the time! We love experimenting with new flavor combinations. We also provide a number of finishing touch toppings to your bowls including coconut flakes, nori flakes, macadamia nuts, crunchy garlic, and wonton strips. Oh and pro tip, don’t forget the wasabi sesame seeds!

Are Poke Bowls Healthy?

Any dish that features both fish and vegetables will get some stars when it come to the healthiness of the meal. However, with poke bowls being so customizable no two poke bowls will have the same calorie and fat content. Overall, Poke bowls are known to be a mostly healthy option, especially when compared to the typical American fast food options we’re used to. Even when you go a bit overboard on fatty or sugary sauce options, for the most part, the ingredients we offer are far healthier than any sauce could offset.

Still, to make your poke bowl as healthy as possible, you just have to be selective in your ingredients. For example, if you are watching your calories, you can order kale or mixed greens as your base instead of rice from our BYOB menu. The same goes for anyone looking to keep their carb intake low. Fresh, raw fish is always a good health-conscious choice, instead of cooked chicken to make your bowl healthier. You’ll get those healthy Omega-3 vitamins that are typically lacking from today’s factory-raised chicken. However, if it’s protein you’re after, you can’t go wrong with any of our tasty fish or fowl options.

Whats Poke All About? Come on Down and Find Out! 

Just reading about and finding out whats Poke is a good way to get interested in this tasty treat. Trust me. Every time I read or write about poke, I get hungry. I can taste the silky, spicy, buttery flavors dance on my tongue. I may have a problem. Ugh I’m hungry now, no joke. It’s pretty clear I love me some poke. However, in order to really KNOW whats poke really about, you have to jump right in and try a bowl for yourself. Here at Pola Poke, we bring authentic, fresh poke right here to Reno, Nevada. 

We offer a variety of poke bowls that will kick start your taste buds into overdrive. With our BYOB menu, you can craft the perfect bowl just to your taste. You also have the option to try one of our featured bowls like the famous Superfood Bowl, Otherside Bowl, Vacation Bowl, Aloha Bowl, and more! So, if you’re ready to find out whats poke all about, come on down today and start your poke adventure. 

Get Your Fresh Food Fix!

Pola Poke is proud to bring fresh poke, acai bowls, smoothies, and craft coffees to Reno, Nevada! We’re a locally-owned business created and operated by a Reno native. Furthermore, our palate-pleasing sustainably sourced bowls offer the perfect combo of healthy and tasty.

Customize your bowl to kick start your wellness and nutrition for the day. Choose from our menu or make it your own poke bowl with a variety of fresh, delicious ingredients. Our menu offers the perfect selection of healthy lean meats, veggies, and toppings to satisfy every fish-lover. Additionally, we’re the perfect choice for keto and protein-rich diets.

So what are you waiting for? An invitation? Well, here it is! Come join us and see why everyone in Reno is raving about Pola Poke Bowls! And if you’re too busy to come say hi, we also offer online ordering for your convenience. What more could you ask for?

Enjoy Fresh Poke in Reno

Pola Poke Bowls
3594 W. Plumb Lane Ste A
Reno, NV 89509
(775) 683-9901

Pola Poke

Author Pola Poke

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