First Bites

Ono Poke Is the Salty Donut of Poke Shops

Ono Poke Is the Salty Donut of Poke Shops
Courtesy of Ono Poke
click to enlarge COURTESY OF ONO POKE
Courtesy of Ono Poke
For years, doughnut shops in Miami have been few and far between. That is until 2016, when an influx of booze-filled, cream-topped sweet treats invaded the 305. Most notable, last year marked the emergence of the Salty Donut, Miami's first artisanal doughnut shop known for innovative interpretations of the traditional pastry, such as sticky bun and cannoli variations.

As the new year settles in, so will a horde of gastronomic trends. Some have been around for months or even years in other parts of the country and world. With the opening of PokeBao in Coral Gables, the success of Poke 305 in Brickell, and the appearance of poke-inspired dishes on menus across town, it looks like the colorful raw-fish bowl will be one of Miami's most prominent food crazes of 2017.

And now there's already a Salty Donut-style poke shop consistently drawing lines and selling out fast: Ono Poke in Wynwood, which opened this past December. Pronounced po-kay, the fish salad blends diced raw fish, vegetables, sauces, and seasonings into a medium-size bowl. Taste aside, what makes this food trend so popular is its pleasing appearance, thanks to the vibrant colors of the ingredients and its health factor, because the dish is rarely processed and comes packed with greens and vegetables. The Hawaiian concept is extremely popular in major cities such as Los Angeles and New York, as well as locations with large Hawaii transplants.

Unlike other shops, Ono adds a Japanese touch to its poke. At almost any given time, customers will find Amir Anvari, who runs Makoto's sushi and raw bars, slicing fresh cuts of tuna and salmon in the shop's open kitchen.

Ono prides itself on never-frozen, always-fresh ingredients. Concentrating on small, high-quality batches of seafood, Ono receives daily shipments of fish, which is why the shop usually sells out long before its 8:30 p.m. closing time.

According to Nuriel Mawardi, the self-described entrepreneur behind Ono, gauging how much fish to order each day is difficult.

"Realistically, we don't want to be selling out early," Mawardi told New Times in December, "but we only feel comfortable selling what we know will be good. So when we're out of fish, we close up for the day."

On a recent visit, Mawardi was found behind Ono's counter whipping up poke bowls while Anvari sliced fish a few steps away. Each bowl, typically made by Mawardi, comes in a clear container, designed with both taste and style in mind. Ono's bowls have become an Instagram sensation, amounting to dozens of photos and tags on social media.

Ono Poke is located one block east of the Salty Donut, at 2320 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Next time you're craving a doughnut, add a poke stop beforehand.

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Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor, with her work appearing in print and digital titles worldwide.
Contact: Clarissa Buch