Forget sushi: a new ahi-infused craze is popping up all over LA. Be it traditional Hawaiian poke or modern So-Cal poke hybrids, this island concoction of cubed raw fish, rice and toppings has become an affordable alternative to sitting down at your favorite seafood restaurant. With an influx of new poke shops populating LA’s culinary scene, we did some digging to discover the crème of the crop (or sea, as it were). Whip out those chopsticks and find the best poke LA restaurants have to offer.
LA's best poke
Opening Daichan’s glass door is like peeling back the closet door to Narnia. It’s one of those hole-in-the-wall spots you almost want to keep secret, but love too much not to brag about. Nestled in an unassuming strip mall, you’ll find red walls dripping in Asian antiques and trinkets, dimly lit lanterns, Buddha figures, picture frames, Chinese quotes on banners—it’s as if an Asian souvenir shop exploded, but in the most charming way possible. Beyond curry-scented aromas, sizzling tempura and other tantalizing fare, you’ll discover an entire section dedicated to succulent Japanese-style poke. Choose from selections of fresh snapper, tuna, salmon, albacore, yellowtail, toro, scallop and more, mixed with seaweed, green onion, pickled ginger, delicate shoyu sauce and served over a bed of lettuce and white, brown, or Hijiki seaweed rice for $12-$16. Pair these perfectly portioned one-size bowls with a cold Sapporo for an intimate date night or casual night out with the gang. Be warned: it’s a small space, so expect at least a 20-30 minute wait most nights.
Poke Etc’s newest location (the original is in Carson) welcomes Long Beach natives into a no-frills strip mall joint that can only be described as island-casual. In fact, flip-flops are practically encouraged. Serving up traditional Hawaiian poke like spicy tuna, limu (algae), and sweet and sour octopus, these poke aficionados know how to whip up a bowl for under $10 that’ll have you saying mahalo. The menu also boasts other staple island fare like lau lau, teriyaki chicken and kalua pork, but since the shop's claim to fame is that it serves 100 pounds of fish per day, we’d say stick with the poke. The space is filled with aloha signs and beachy decor—further proof that the island spirit is alive and well.
If you’re craving a satiating bite after catching some waves, Big Daddy’s Poke Shop is your spot. Just steps off the Venice boardwalk, this savory and affordable haven is a little slice of paradise, offering endless poke options, lush acai bowls, fruit smoothies and—equally important—shaded outdoor seating. And since they’ve deemed themselves the big daddy, it’s only fitting for them to holster one of the largest fixings menu around. Liven up your build-a-bowl with ahi tuna or salmon, wasabi shoyu, house shoyu or sriracha aioli, and the likes of pea sprouts, baby bok choy, red cabbage, charred pineapples, kimchi and more. Hungry beachgoers can reel in a lil daddy bowl (one topping) for $9 or a big daddy (two toppings) for $12. Those in the market for non-fish options can dive into the chicken teriyaki bowl or the veggie kale salad.
You might not expect much from a Venice poke stand bordering tattoo parlors, yoked Muscle Beach-goers and eclectic street performers, but Poke-Poke packs a punch. Score silky fresh ahi marinating in a cocktail of chili oil, shoyu or spicy mayo with crisp white and green onions for a pungent kick ($7 for a small bowl, $11 for a large). Customize your own concoction or order the spicy tuna, wasabi and aloha favorites on a bed of white or brown rice or Hawaiian style (meaning sans rice, more fish, at $9-$14). Unlike the average poke shop, meat-lovers can snag a pan-seared beef poke tossed with soy sauce, sesame seeds, white and green onions, watercress, and tomatoes; if you're not into meat, the ultimate veggie bowl is promising for vegetarians, with tons of crisp veggies on kale salad and brown rice for $10. Take a seat in the small makeshift courtyard for epic people-watching that may be more Instagram worthy than the poke bowl itself.
Promising quick mouthwatering bites at a bargain price, this Downtown hot spot (with another location in Santa Monica) expedites savory upscale plates that’ll make you rethink that measly café wrap. From Cajun grilled shrimp tacos to beer battered fish and chips, this menu packs it all in—including one tempting poke selection. Pop into Sea Salt Fish Grill for spicy ahi poke tossed in yogi sriracha dressing, green onions and sesame seeds, and served with a side of hot homemade tortilla chips for $8.99. More substantial alternatives include the ahi poke salad (made with mixed greens, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, edamame, sesame, avocado, carrots, green onion and limon ginger dressing) for $12.99, or the California poke bowl made with sweet shrimp, citrus imitation crab, pickled cucumbers, avocado and nori over a bed of rice for $9.99.
The Redondo Beach lunch hour crowd flocks to Jus’ Poke’s glistening fish-lined deli case as if marinated poke is a vital nutrient to carry out the workday (it very well could be). You’ll want to come hungry. Score generous portions of original (traditional marinade), spicy, shoyu, wasabi or California roll poke (cucumber, tobiko, avocado and imitation crab) with rice and a side for $8 (regular) or $14 (large). But more than the perfect combination of buttery fish and crunchy onion, the translucent deli case is home to equally palatable sides included with each bowl. Choose from spicy edamame, seaweed salad, pickled cucumbers, Hawaiian chips and more for the ultimate complementary bite to your fishing expedition. Seal the mouthwatering deal with a classic scoop of coconut and pineapple or green tea ice cream.
Perky pop beats fill this Glendale poke shop as guests are met with equally upbeat staff. Upon entering this tiny oasis, pick out your favorite toppings and have at it. Served in a one-size, large container, these heavy-handed scoopers fill your bowl for a mere $9.17. Start off with two servings of white or brown rice and a savory cup of imitation crab, then choose from a myriad of fresh or cooked fish (including wild cards like scallop, shrimp, unagi, soft shell crab and baked crawfish). The glass deli case serves as an ogle-inducing, drool-worthy 3-D menu, hosting everything from pickled cucumbers and fried garlic cloves to seaweed salad and more. Top it off with a sauce of your choosing and enjoy your bowl at the small community table (though considering the tight squeeze, it might be best to just get it to go).
There's no need to reserve a five-star restaurant for sushi-grade bites. Nestled amidst West 3rd Street’s burgeoning boutiques and eateries, Mainland Poke serves up some of the highest quality fish around. Unlike traditional poke that's saturated with sauce, these seafood buffs spotlight the freshness of their proteins with a drizzled sauce. Choose from a deli-case of manicured ahi, albacore, octopus and more, served on a bed of rice or salad, and amp it up with fresh garnishes of your choosing at $8.45 for small bowl and $10.95 for a large (Aloha Bowls without a base go up to $14.95). Savor house favorites like the “Ichiban” made with albacore, pickled ginger, green onions, tobiko and topped with wasabi cream. For a fiery twist, order the “That fire!” made with tuna, furikake, chili flakes, jalapeño, siracha and wasabi cream—a sweat-inducing, tantalizing concoction that you can guzzle down with sweet housemade lemonades. You pay a pretty penny for the small portion size, but for combinations and quality this grandiose, it’s worth it.
Artisanal coastal decor (curated by Studio Collective) and artistic, enticing bowls combine for an experience that can only be defined as poke chic. Culinary wiz Dakota Weiss (former contestant on Top Chef) has reinvented the traditional poke bowl. Unlike the usual white or brown rice fare, you’ll choose from an uplifted base selection of green bamboo rice (same sushi rice texture but healthier), fresh kelp noodles and cucumber slaw, or a citrus kale salad. Top off your poke experience with a build-your-own bowl ($7.95-$12.95) or choose from a myriad of zesty signature dishes ($8.95-$13.95) like the mango albacore with ponzu-lime, macadamia nuts and ginger or the spicy yuzu salmon tossed with yuzu koshu sauce, edamame and fresh lime. Nothing imitation about Sweetfin. Standouts from the toppings selection include wasabi-toasted coconut flakes, pickled shiitake mushroom, and fiery jalapeños. Complement your bowl with thin-cut taro chips, house-crafted iced teas and matcha popcorn (white chocolate, matcha, black sesame and coconut) for a heavenly mid-day treat.
Amidst the historic brick facades of Old Town Pasadena, Spinfish Poke House is an on-the-go poke shop boasting tasty modern morsels. Choose between an extensive list of house signature bowls or build your own—either way, you’ll score hefty servings of fresh fish, imitation crab and rice for under $12. If you’re looking for a pungent afternoon kick, choose the Sweet Heat ahi tuna poke tossed with sweet chili sauce, crispy onion, masago, green onion and sweet onion (basically a delightful montage of the onion family)—you’ll likely need a mint after, but it’s worth it. Those in the market for more Caribbean zest can order the Coco Loco made with chili lime, coconut flakes, avocado, cilantro, sweet onions and citrus zest. Blending traditional Hawaiian-style ingredients with inventive combinations, this small poke joint elevates its three fish offerings (salmon, ahi tuna and yellowtail) to pure perfection.