Ahi tuna and salmon with seaweed salad, ginger, cucumbers and green onions at Poki Bowl.

Ahi tuna and salmon with seaweed salad, ginger, cucumbers and green onions at Poki Bowl. (Jeff Cianci)

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If there was ever a recent food trend that has taken the Bay Area by storm, poke bowls sure fit the ticket. Every week it seems like a new store has popped up offering their take on this classic Hawaiian dish. Traditionally, the dish is served as a mix of raw seafood tossed in a soy marinade and served over rice. There are a number of variations of poke in Hawaii but not nearly as many as those that have emerged with this new trend. As usual, San Francisco serves as the hot bed for the recent poke bowl trend in the Bay Area but the peninsula and South Bay are speckled with plenty of great options. Here are five great restaurants to enjoy poke bowls South of San Francisco. If we missed your favorite please be sure to share it in the comments.

Go Fish Poke Bar

The signature poke bowl at Go Fish Poke Bar.
The signature poke bowl at Go Fish Poke Bar. (Jeff Cianci)

Started by Google’s former head sushi chef, Go Fish Poke Bar offers an extensive menu with high-quality ingredients, sustainable seafood and delicious housemade sauces. Customers can customize their poke bowl with base ingredients such as chilled yam noodles, brown rice, mixed local greens; then top with dressed or undressed seafood options; and pick from an offering of toppings such as Gilroy garlic furikake and spicy tempura flakes. You can also order off a menu of their top five creations. The popular tataki bowl tosses bites of seared albacore tuna in a light and zesty ponzu dressing and is topped with crunchy fried onions, sesame seeds, green onions, ginger and wasabi. In addition to poke bowls the store also has a small menu of hand rolls and chef’s specials.

The tataki bowl with seared albacore tuna with ponzu dressing and fried onions.
The tataki bowl with seared albacore tuna with ponzu dressing and fried onions. (Jeff Cianci)
The counter at Go Fish Poke.
The counter at Go Fish Poke. (Jeff Cianci)

Go Fish Poke Bar
1183 S De Anza Blvd. #40 [map]
San Jose, CA 95129
Ph: (408) 343-0988
Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-9pm; Closed Monday
Facebook: Go Fish Poke Bar
Twitter: @GoFishPoke
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($10-$17)

Poki Bowl

Ahi tuna and salmon with seaweed salad, ginger, cucumbers and green onions at Poki Bowl.
Ahi tuna and salmon with seaweed salad, ginger, cucumbers and green onions at Poki Bowl. (Jeff Cianci)

Poki Bowl, a small shop in South San Jose, usually has a line out the door come lunchtime for their inexpensive poke bowls. The menu is relatively straightforward: customers can create a bowl with rice, chips or mixed greens and then top with a selection of dressed and undressed seafood. Toppings such as avocado, masago eggs and crab meat are included in the price. However, seaweed salad and extra scoops of avocado or fish are an additional charge. The soy-based house dressing is a tasty balance of sweet and savory but for a creamy, umami-packed treat go for the miso dressing.

Ahi tuna and yellowtail with cucumbers, green onions, crab salad and avocado at Poki Bowl.
Ahi tuna and yellowtail with cucumbers, green onions, crab salad and avocado at Poki Bowl. (Jeff Cianci)
Customers in line at Poki Bowl in San Jose.
Customers in line at Poki Bowl in San Jose. (Jeff Cianci)

Poki Bowl
4750 Almaden Expy. [map]
San Jose, CA 95118
Ph: (669) 247-7654
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-8pm
Facebook: Poki Bowl
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)
Twitter: @pokibowl1
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($10-$17)

Pokeatery

Ahi tuna over kelp noodles and brown rice with spicy crab salad and seaweed salad.
Ahi tuna over kelp noodles and brown rice with spicy crab salad and seaweed salad. (Jeff Cianci)

Island vibes and tasty poke bowl creations can be found at Pokeatery in San Mateo. Customers can begin their creations with options such as traditional rice as well as kelp noodles or a zesty citrus kale salad. For seafood options, Poki Bowl serves Ahi tuna, albacore, salmon, yellowtail and shrimp as well as octopus and tofu. For a traditional bowl I recommend the ahi tuna over kelp noodles and rice with a side of spicy crab salad and seaweed salad topped with a salty and sweet furikake seasoning. However, the kale salad topped with mixed seafood, creamy bites of avocado, cucumbers and onions is a delicious alternative.

Salmon, ahi tuna and shrimp with mangos over a kale salad.
Salmon, ahi tuna and shrimp with mangos over a kale salad. (Jeff Cianci)
Customer ordering at Pokeatery in San Mateo.
Customer ordering at Pokeatery in San Mateo. (Jeff Cianci)

Pokeatery
407 S B St. [map]
San Mateo CA 94401
Ph: (650) 389-2672
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-8pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-8pm; Sun 11:30am-8pm
Facebook: Pokeatery
Twitter: @pokeatery
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($10-$17)

PokéLOVE

Ahi tuna and salmon in ponzu and spicy shoyu over cabbage slaw and brown rice.
Ahi tuna and salmon in ponzu and spicy shoyu over cabbage slaw and brown rice. (Jeff Cianci)

PokéLOVE, a brand new shop in Palo Alto, is already generating a good deal of attention with their extensive menu of high quality and sometimes unconventional ingredients. Customers can pick from a menu of favorite combos or build their own poke bowl to their liking. In addition to rice and greens, unique base options include farro, quinoa and soba noodles. Among the seafood options, PokéLOVE offers sustainably-farmed organic salmon from Sweden. The restaurant also serves organic chicken and tofu as protein options. Continuing with the theme of straying away from traditional poke, PokéLOVE’s dressings include sweet Thai chili, masala curry, and Korean chili paste. For those who enjoy the traditional flavor, the citrus forward ponzu sauce is wonderful over cubes of ahi tuna and yellowtail.

Scallops, octopus and shrimp in shoyu dressing over kale and roasted vegetables.
Scallops, octopus and shrimp in shoyu dressing over kale and roasted vegetables. (Jeff Cianci)
PokéLOVE employees building poke bowls
PokéLOVE employees building poke bowls (Jeff Cianci)

PokéLOVE
855 El Camino Real #9 [map]
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Ph: (650) 800-7388
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-9pm
Facebook: PokéBOWL
Twitter: @thepokelove
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($10-$17)

Hawaiian Poke Bowl

The shoyu salmon bowl at Hawaiian Poke Bowl.
The shoyu salmon bowl at Hawaiian Poke Bowl. (Jeff Cianci)

Hawaiian Poke Bowl started small by only offering their organic poke creations from a tent at the San Pedro Square Farmers’ Market. You can still make a visit each Friday but they have now set up a permanent location on the other side of downtown at the new SoFa Market. The concise menu offers salmon or ahi tuna in either a spicy mayo or shoyu dressing served over rice or mixed greens. Then top your bowl with green onions, ginger, avocado and jalapenos. The spicy tuna is a perfect option if you enjoy spicy tuna rolls at your favorite sushi bar. If you’re more a fan of the salty and savory flavors the shoyu dressing is your pick. Both options are delicious.

The spicy ahi bowl at Hawaiian Poke Bowl.
The spicy ahi bowl at Hawaiian Poke Bowl. (Jeff Cianci)
Hawaiian Poke Bowl inside the SoFA Market in San Jose.
Hawaiian Poke Bowl inside the SoFA Market in San Jose. (Jeff Cianci)

Hawaiian Poke Bowl
387 S 1st St. [map]
San Jose, CA 95113
Ph: (408) 564-8393
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm; Sat 11:30am-10pm; Sun 11:30am-7pm
Facebook: Hawaiian Poke Bowl
Twitter: @PokeBowl
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($10-$17)

Five Great Restaurants to Enjoy Poke Bowls South of San Francisco 7 December,2016Jeff Cianci
  • saimin

    The best poke on the peninsula is at Takahashi Market in San Mateo and Aloha Fresh in Cupertino. All of the others give you smaller portions of fish that is diluted with various veggies.

Author

Jeff Cianci

Jeff Cianci is a freelance food writer based in San Jose. While studying journalism in college, Jeff’s curiosity landed him at a busy California bistro where he experienced a crash course in culinary training over two summer breaks, learning on the job with a very patient chef as his mentor. Around the same time, Jeff married his journalism degree to his appreciation for the restaurant world and determined food writing would be his career path. In his work Jeff most enjoys profiling chefs and learning their background, finding a new favorite restaurant and sharing his experiences with others through his reviews and social media. In addition to KQED's Bay Area Bites, Jeff writes restaurant reviews for Metro Silicon Valley and new restaurant guides for Eater National. Follow Jeff on Twitter @Cheffreycianci.