What’s the Difference Between Poke and Sashimi?

By May 4, 2021Blog
What's the Difference Between Poke and Sashimi?

If you’re a lover of raw fish like I am, then you’ve probably dabbled in sushi, sashimi, and poke dishes. Possibly for quite some time. After all, I’ve been eating sushi since I was four years old. Granted, it was premade grocery store sushi, but it set the stage for my love of the dish and my love for raw fish. Then, when all-you-can-eat sushi started to become a thing in Reno, my cousin first took me to Sushi Club, and then we went and saw The Sixth Sense in the theater. Ya, I’ve been here for a long time.

I first tried poke at the age of 19 when I visited Hawaii on vacation. Needless to say, I was hooked… but it was not to be. I never found poke in the states after my return and my love for the dish soon faded into the distance, existing only as a memory. After experiencing the true joys of raw fish, but realizing carb-heavy sushi was not right for me, I tried sashimi for the first time at the age of 24. It was amazing as well, but it felt a bit empty. In the end, sushi was my first love, but poke was my soul mate. But why? What was so good about poke?

But hold on now. I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat sashimi. Far from it. But there are some differences between poke and sashimi that are worth noting. Especially when it comes to the range of options that come at a place like Pola Poke Bowls in Reno, NV. Below, I’ll compare and contrast the two delicious dishes and explain why I prefer poke over sashimi. Who knows? I may just convince you that poke is the better option. I sure hope so!

What is Sashimi?

Sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of a raw assortment of thinly sliced fish. And if you’re a fish purist, it doesn’t get much better for you than sashimi. Unlike sushi, the sashimi dish cuts out 95% of the fluff… and a huge number of empty calories. At least when compared to the average sushi dishes you might find locally in the Reno area. Additionally, sashimi (or sashimi-grade fish) is some of the highest quality fish available. While sushi frequently consists of nori, rice, calorie-laden sauces, fruits, veggies, cream cheese, and even breading, sashimi goes the simple route. Simple and pure. Just the fish.

The average sashimi dish includes slices of fresh raw fish, usually consisting of salmon, ahi, yellowtail, and even octopus, scallops (a personal favorite), mackerel, and more. You would likely receive some soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger (similar to your experience at a sushi restaurant) in order to enrich the flavors of your fish. However, sashimi is frequently enjoyed completely untouched without additional ingredients.

Again, if you appreciate the finer fins in life, sashimi is probably your best bet. Additionally, sampling a restaurant’s sashimi with nothing to obscure the taste is a great way to see whether the quality of their fish is up to snuff. After all, many sushi restaurants disguise low-quality fish with loads of rice, sauce, cheese, and fry it all up so you get some Frankenstein’s monster of the originally intended dish. Personally, I find sampling the nigiri first is a great way to know what you’re getting.

Sometimes, rice is served on the side of your sashimi. However, for anyone looking to stick to a high protein, low carb diet, sashimi is a solid choice over traditional sushi and especially the Americanized versions of the dish. In my humble opinion, rice is an unnecessary addition to this dish and does it a disservice. If you’re looking for simplicity and you dream about raw fish as I do, sashimi is a solid choice for you.

Fresh sashimi fish
Assortment of Fresh Sashimi (Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash)

What is Poke?

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something closer to sushi and you love to stack complex flavors and textures, then poke may be just what you’re looking for. First off, poke and sashimi are similar in the fact that they both utilize fresh raw fish as their main ingredient. However, unlike sashimi, poke is not thinly sliced and is usually served in cubes. In fact, the word “poke” actually translates to “chunk” in Hawaiian. And that brings me to my next point. Unlike sashimi, poke is not a Japanese dish. It originated in Hawaii.

Poke can also include other protein ingredients like crab, shrimp, octopus, and other meats, so those are usually prepared according to each restaurant they are served in. Again, sashimi is often served alone. A simple poke mixture will frequently include a soy-based sauce, sesame oil, possibly some purple onions. The fish is marinated in the mixture and then served in a bowl. This is the most basic type of poke. Some people may also add scallions, sriracha, and macadamia nuts on top to, quite literally, spice things up. In the end, the dish alone is still a relatively purist preparation.

poke cubes
Cubed ahi for poke (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

The Pola Poke Way

With the introduction of poke bowls, things have gotten wildly creative. Now, poke bowls can include a vast variety of ingredients to please the pickiest of pallets and titillate the tongues of gastronomes the world over.

For example, at Pola Poke Bowls in Reno, we offer a choice of kale, mixed greens, white rice, and brown rice for the base of your bowl. When it comes to proteins, we offer our customers their choice of deep-sea crab, ahi, spicy tuna, salmon, octopus, chicken, and shrimp. Then we mix your protein with cucumbers, scallions, and purple onions. And that’s just the beginning! We stir all those delicious fresh ingredients in with your choice of 10+ sauces. It’s all up to you to craft the bowl of your dreams.

Then, the magic starts to happen when we get the large assortment of add-on ingredients. At Pola Poke, we offer avocado, mango, pineapple, salmon roe, wasabi, tofu cubes, ginger, edamame, seaweed salad, spicy crab, roasted beets, and more! Then, in the end, you can choose toppings that include macadamia nuts, shaved nori, crispy garlic, coconut flakes, green onions, wasabi sesame seeds, furikake, and wonton strips.

Talk about selection! And that’s what makes a poke bowl so special. You get to take all the delicious, nutrient-rich sashimi-grade fish you love and really turn it into a unique, flavorful creation. And if you like big, healthy portions, rest assured you’ll leave Pola Poke fully satisfied. We offer both regular and large poke bowls depending on how hungry you are… or if you want to have some poke left over for a delightful midnight snack. We even offer veggie poke bowls and our Keiki-sized bowl for the kids!

Pola Poke bowls with ingredients
Poke Bowls at Pola Poke in Reno

Why I Prefer Poke Over Sashimi

For myself, I find that a poke bowl offers a vast assortment of selections that work well on any diet or eating plan. And the best part is you can try something new every time. If you’re adventurous, eating a protein-packed poke bowl can be a new experience each and every time you dine at Pola Poke Bowls.

And that’s not all. While I do consider myself a fish purist, I’m not above experiencing a variety of flavors and textures with my fish. I’m a healthy eater, and I mean that in both ways. I can eat a lot and I have a big appetite. With that in mind, I find it’s important to make sure I’m not eating too much of the wrong thing. That’s why poke has been a favorite option of mine. I get a protein-rich meal that’s low in bad fats. But your average servicing of poke would leave me wanting more. Unsatisfied.

The best of both worlds really is the poke bowl. I can get all the proteins and fresh fish I love, mixed with flavorful veggies, greens, nuts, and seeds. And depending on the type of dietary restrictions I might be on at the time (I’m currently on high-protein/keto), I might also enjoy some of the fruits and seaweed salad (which I highly recommend to everyone).

So, if you love fresh fish, sashimi is a great way to experience the best of the best. However, if you’re looking for something more rich, flavorful, and filling, I’ve found that poke bowls are the way to go. If you haven’t experienced sashimi or poke, I beg you to get your butt in gear and go do it… RIGHT NOW! You won’t regret it. And if you’re looking for the best poke in town, Reno agrees that Pola Poke is the best place for poke bowls in town.

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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