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Posted on August 5, 2016

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Coming from the Hawaiin Islands, poke (POH-keh) is taking Chicago and the nation by storm in the form of poke bowls and just poke alone. Remember the sushi boom around 2005, well it is Poke's turn. With that in mind, is poke just a fad or is it a truly better alternative to sushi? What is poke?

[Photograph: J. Kenji López]

Poke is a Hawaiian term that translates into chunk or cut to cut crosswise into pieces. With that in mind, it should make sense that all poke is cubed raw fish. In the most traditional form, the Hawaiian pupu, or snack, combines chunks of fresh tuna (usually ahi) with a simple soy, sesame oil marinade. Don't get it confused with ceviche which marinates in lime or lemon juice. The poke bowl craze: These days poke also goes way beyond the traditional ahi tuna with soy and sesame marinade. Poke is now made with a wide array of seafood (salmon and octopus usually as an alternative to ahi), topped with an array of sauces/marinades and garnishes. In Chicago, we see poke popularly served as the poke bowl.

[Photograph: Lenny Gilmore / RedEye]

The two big guns in the poke bowl game, currently, are FireFin Poke and Aloha Poke. Both surged into existence in 2015/2016 and have been entertaining the weekday work crowd and foodstragram lovers since. So is it a fad? I certainly hope not! Sushi around the city will still be a fun and exciting thing to do with friends or on a date. Poke is just a better bang for your buck regarding the quantity of fish you get for your dollar, and I enjoy the fact that I have a fresher choice to the chipotle-esque restaurant model. Plus, it is a different overall style from sushi and ceviche. Got to get them Omega-3s! Shaka bruv!

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune]

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