Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Say Aloha to a New Los Angeles Staple - Poke (pronounced POH-kay)

Mainland Poke's Made-To-Order Bowls Are Reeling In Customers Across the City

 

March 25, 2017

Vildana Hajric

Workers preparing bowls at Poke's new Santa Monica Location

Mainland Poke, a hip fast-casual restaurant offering Hawaiian raw fish salad better known as poké (pronounced POH-kay), opened its fourth location last week in the heart of Santa Monica. While Los Angeles has plenty of poké options, Mainland distinguishes itself by offering fresh sushi-grade fish and seafood that is neither frozen nor marinated. Scoops of crimson fish cubes are stacked on top of rice and crisp vegetables and dressed with a variety of sauces. At Mainland, meals are customizable and built-to-order.

According to some accounts, poké originated in Hawaii in the 1970s and historically consisted of off-cuts of fish seasoned with soy sauce or similar dressings. The preparation was a snack for fishermen but is now ubiquitously found in deli cases at markets throughout Hawaii-and increasingly in the Los Angeles region as well.

The dish is simple but the combination of ingredients packs a punch of flavor. At Mainland, patrons can choose from pre-picked flavor combinations or can create their own concoctions. Fish and seafood options include ahi, salmon, albacore, octopus, and blue crab, among others; vegetarians have a tofu alternative. The topping and sauce choices to accompany the protein are numerous and range from crispy onions, to creamy avocado, to sweet mango chunks. 

The fish at Mainland is fresh and it's difficult to choose from the many enticing ingredients to build a meal. However, any combination is sure to be savory and delicious. For dessert, the restaurant offers sticky rice sourced from a local dessert-maker and served in individual mason jars.

Mainland takes pride in breaking down the fish in-house and working directly with fishermen. The company says it sources fish from the same purveyors as some of Los Angeles' best sushi restaurants. Mainland also says it is "committed to responsible sourcing and certified by Friends of the Sea, which promotes selective fishing methods and aims to reduce ecosystem impact."

Vildana Hajric

Poke chef displays two bowls.

New poké restaurants have been popping up around Los Angeles in an attempt to satisfy the city's penchant for the popular fare. Mainland is taking advantage of the craze-the company has plans for additional locations across the city, with a new restaurant slated to open soon.

The delicious savory bowls at Mainland Poke have drawn in schools of hungry patrons. Customers brave long waits during the lunch-hour rush, when the line snakes out the door and onto the sidewalk. Be prepared for the lengthy wait should you try to land a meal.

A hui hou, Mainland Poke - until we meet again!

Santa Monica

411 Santa Monica Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90401

11am - 9pm / Daily

 

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