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

By Bonnie He
Observer Staff Writer 

Poke Mon? Poke You? No Dude, it's Poke Me. Say "POE-Kay," Because They're Everywhere

You haven't been imagining it. There has been a crop of poke places popping up recently.


October 16, 2017

You haven't been imagining it. There has been a crop of poke places popping up recently.

You haven't been imagining it. There has been a crop of poke places popping up recently.

And what is poke (pronounced "POE-kay"), exactly? Hailing from Hawaii, poke in Los Angeles is a sushi bowl that you order step-by-step in the vein of Chipotle. Angelenos already familiar with chirashi can think of poke as the casual, fast food version that's still healthy.

For those of you who have been meaning to venture into one these trendy destinations, we recommend Poke Me, a friendly, family-run chain with several locations, including a Westside location in Westwood and a South Bay location in Palos Verdes.

With its bright, cheerful interior, Poke Me is a an ideal place to get your protein fix, cheap and fast! Clearly displayed on the overhead boards behind the panoply of ingredients is the easy 6-step guide that leads to tasty success. Once followed all the way through, the end result is a delightful medley of fish, condiments and sauces.

Step 1: Base

As we mentioned before, you can think of poke your casual, less expensive chirashi -- and you can order it as such, with white and brown rice options Or you can forgo the carbs completely with leafy greens. Kale is $1 extra. If you're feeling up for variety, you can get a half & half mix! Poke bowl options are plentiful, and we're not surprised they start at the base!

Step 2: Side

Poke Me is not messing around with their sides. Since you can only choose two, it may be difficult deciding when you see what's up on offer. Upscale vegetable options include seaweed salad, edamame and avocado. Sounds pretty good so far, right? Well, here's where it gets great: the other upscale options include tamago (Japanese omelette), crab meat and spicy crab meat! Crab! As a side! Plus there's no added charge for the crab meat. There isn't any reason to not choose crab as your side (...shellfish allergy aside).

Step 3: Protein

As promised, Poke Me is your protein destination! There are differentiating price points, depending on whether you get 2, 3, or 4 scoops of fish, which are all reasonable priced. The variety of fish to choose from runs the gamut: tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallop, albacore, spicy albacore, yellowtail, and octopus. Plus, there's a great tofu option for vegetarians.

Step 4: Mix-In

Poke Me is nothing if not full of options. Add these garnishes to give your meal a zesty flourish: white onion, cucumber, cilantro, pineapple and masago, which is capelin roe.

Step 5: Sauce

Some of the many sauces are made in-house, and Poke Me even have a gluten-free sesame shoyo options, in mild or spicy. Other fantastic sauces include mild or spicy ponzu, sweet ponzu, yuzu ponzu, yuzu wasabi, spicy chili, spicy mayo, and gochujang, a red chili paste that originates from Korea. We at the Santa Monica Observer highly recommend the truffle ponzu for ultimate umami satisfaction!

Step 6: Topping

For the finishing touch, feel free to sprinkle on green onion, jalapeno, ginger, corn, crispy onion, wasabi, roasted garlic, sea salt, and kizami nori, a shredded dry seaweed. Tobiko, a colorful flying fish roe, is a $1 extra.

Congratulations! You've just created deliciously concocted masterpiece.

The best part about this meal is that it's superbly filling. However, if you do have room for dessert, there delicious macaron ice cream to be had!

We hope you poke your taste buds at Poke Me.

Poke Me Locations

Palos Verdes

Golden Cove Shopping Center

31234 #A Palos Verdes Dr.

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275


1244 Westwood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Miracle Mile

310 S. La Brea Ave., Suite E

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Irvine #1

Heritage Plaza Shopping Center

14370 Culver Drive #C

Irvine, CA 92604

Irvine #2 (New!)

University Park Center

18066 Culver Dr.

Irvine, CA 92612


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