With 2017 in full swing, the nation's latest food trends are sprouting up across the Magic City. Last year was all about doughnuts, particularly the Salty Donut. This year, Miamians still find ourselves craving something salty, but it has nothing to do with a ring of fried dough.
Poke, a trendy Hawaiian-born seafood bowl, has finally made its way to Miami. Pronounced po-kay, the dish blends diced raw fish — typically marinated in a thin soy-based sauce — with vegetables, seasonings, and creamy sauces into a medium-size bowl. Taste aside, what makes this dish so popular is its pleasing appearance, thanks to the vibrant colors of the ingredients. The concept, which comes from the Hawaiian word "to slice or cut raw fish," is favored in major cities such as Los Angeles and New York, as well as locations with large Hawaiian transplants.
Though poke has been popular for months or even years in other parts of the country and world, the opening of PokéBao in Coral Gables, the success of Poké 305 in Brickell, and the appearance of poke-inspired dishes on menus across town are clear indications that the bright raw-fish bowl will be one of Miami's most prominent food crazes of 2017.
1. Ono Poke
There's already a Salty Donut-style poke shop consistently drawing lines and selling out fast: Ono Poke in Wynwood, which opened just before 2017. Unlike other shops in town, 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 (bowls cost $13 and $16). Ono prides itself on ingredients that are never frozen and always fresh. 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. The shop also happens to be located one block east of the Salty Donut, at 2320 N. Miami Ave. Next time you're craving a doughnut, add a poke stop beforehand. 2. PokéBao
This fast-casual restaurant in Coral Gables specializes in poke bowls and bao buns. Chef/owner Daniel Bouza drew inspiration for PokéBao from his time working at Nobu Lana'i in Lana'i City, Hawaii. The chef, who most recently worked at Makoto in Bal Harbour, says PokéBao was inspired by a little surf shack in Lana'i that served poke bowls. Daily signature bowls ($12.50) include spicy ahi tuna poke, made with yellowfin tuna, furikake rice, masago, fuego mayo, and green onion, and shrimp Lana’i poke, containing seaweed-and-cucumber sunomono salad, local prawns, papaya, sweet potato, sesame seed, spicy ginger, and passionfruit dressing. 3. Poké 305
Located in downtown Miami, Poké 305 takes the already flavorful meal and infuses it with a Latin touch by using ingredients such as guacamole and yuca chips. In addition to offering curated bowls, Poké 305 also uses Chipotle’s method of ordering that allows customers to build lunch or dinner plates of their own, with custom bowls starting at $12.95. Anyone can create a salad, a burrito, or a bowl, served with miso soup. Bowls are filled with white rice, brown rice, or quinoa, and salads are made with a fresh spring mix. You then choose a dish-defining protein such as raw tuna, raw salmon, whitefish, chicken, or shrimp. Each order comes with an unlimited number of mix-ins, ranging from crunchy vegetables to Peruvian corn and wonton chips. 4. My Ceviche
The local seafood restaurant chain is known for its signature ceviches and burritos. However, the eatery recently joined Miami's poke craze. My Ceviche's poke and ceviche bowls feature fresh seafood, but the difference is in the regional influences, according to co-owner Sam Gorenstein. That means line-caught mahi-mahi, octopus sourced seasonally off the Yucatán Peninsula, tuna line-caught in the Pacific waters of Panama, and salmon sustainably farm-raised in the open oceans off the Faroe Islands are available to add to your bowl.
5. K Ramen Burger Beer
Located inside the basement of the Townhouse Hotel, K Ramen Burger Beer has whipped up an eclectic batch of dinnertime plates since opening this past November. The eatery's name reveals what this place is about: ramen, burgers, and a variety of international beers. There's also poke. Using Japanese and American inspiration, K Ramen brings fine dining into an exceedingly casual setting. The restaurant's two poke dishes blend raw salmon ($12) or tuna ($16) with microgreens and various creamy, spicy sauces. The fish is so fresh it nearly melts in your mouth.
6. Local Boy Poke
The fast-casual seafood concept by River Oyster Bar's David Bracha and Curtis Rhodes offers poke and other dishes inspired by the Hawaiian Islands. Bracha and Rhodes, by the way, are still with River Oyster Bar and plan to remain at the Brickell seafood standard. River Oyster Bar has been serving the dish for some time, but now the chefs think Miami should delve deeper into the poke bowl. They plan to open a brick-and-mortar location of Local Boy Poke in Wynwood. Until then, it is available around town through its food truck. Dishes ($10 to $15) include ahi tuna shoyu with seaweed, soy, and sesame; pipikaula (fried beef) with chili udon noodles and spicy edamame; furikake salmon with quinoa, brown rice, and ocean salad; spicy ahi tuna with garlic plantain chips; and pork belly musubi with sushi rice and nori.
Japanese-Spanish fusion spot Kuenko, located at the Wynwood Yard, blends the technique of Michelin-starred chef Ricardo Sanz with quality ingredients in a food truck that serves meals for about $10. Co-opting the trend of fast-casual eating, the restaurant offers an assortment of flavors in a donburi — a Japanese rice bowl — starting at $10.38. Diners can add various proteins that are paired with complementing sauces and a fried egg.
8. Plant Food + Wine
This plant-based eatery created by Matthew Kenney serves small and large plates, organic cocktails and juices, and fresh, healthful desserts. The menu highlights local produce featured in cutting-edge, plant-based cuisine inspired by South Florida. Among one of the restaurant's more intriguing menu items is watermelon poke — flavored and seasoned with ponzu-lime, tamari, macadamia, ginger, and mint.
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9. The Poke House
At Fort Lauderdale's first poke joint, the Poke House, located in Victoria Park Shoppes at 666 Federal Hwy., guests begin their culinary experience by choosing from proteins such as tuna, salmon, hamachi, and tofu. From there, diners can build their own bowl by selecting a base of steamed white rice, quinoa, or kale and then selecting from more than 20 sauces and toppings, including chipotle mayo, ají amarillo lime, crispy lotus, and black radish. Rather than ordering food from traditional servers, customers have a more enlightening option: creating bowls (starting at $11.95) with professional line cooks and chefs.
10. 180 Degrees at the DRB
This gastropub, located in the heart of downtown Miami at 501 NE First Ave., is a mecca for comfort-food-style bites paired with boozy drinks. An unlikely suspect found on the menu is a spicy tuna poke bowl ($14). Created by chef/owner Ryan Martin, the dish mixes diced raw tuna with green onion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sriracha, miso, Ozeki sake, and mango-avocado salsa.