FOOD FIGHT: Say “aloha” to the Poke Guy

Poke is the perfect way to depart from your regular lunch, and take a flavour vacation to Hawaii.

If you ever want to experience a Hawaiian vibe in the middle of Raincouver, ditch the plane tickets and get yourself down to the Poke Guy, located in Gastown.

Poke (pronounced po-kay) is raw fish salad served in Hawaiian cuisine. Typically tuna or octopus, poke has expanded to include different proteins like salmon and shrimp. Vancouver’s poke scene is growing steadily, with places such as Poké Time in the West End and Pokerrito in the downtown core, in addition to this conveniently located poke stop (pun intended) by SFU’s Harbour Centre campus.

To add to its Hawaiian feel, the 20-seat restaurant has a very beachy feel with clean white walls, wooden furniture, and vibrant green plants. There are colourful leis everywhere, and with every bite of the poke, you can feel the sunshine beating down on your face and the flavours coming alive.

What I love about the Poke Guy is the amount of choice you have when it comes to what you want to eat. First off, you get to choose the size: the little guy, which has of two scoops of protein and up to five sides, or the big guy, which has three scoops of protein and unlimited sides. There are daily proteins that rotate, though, like tako (octopus) and shrimp, as well as mainstays such as ahi tuna and Lomi Lomi (marinated salmon).

There is also the choice between white and brown rice or a salad base, and a number of sides such as imitation crab, avocado, corn, and fresh mango. You also get a choice of dressings as well as “crunch” toppings like nori (seaweed), crispy onions, and pork rinds.

I tried the little guy with half white rice and half salad, Lomi Lomi (fresh salmon marinated with vinegar, tomato, parsley, and onions), and added imitation crab meat and mango, topped with nori. The fish was undeniably fresh since they bring it in every day. I wanted to be super bold, so I added in mango. I worried it would be a bad mix, but it turned out to be the best decision I made that day. Sweet mango pieces mixed with the saltiness of the fish, and the warm sushi rice was like a hug of Hawaiian sunshine in my mouth. Bold, flavourful, and just downright delicious.

Aside from serving up what one worker called “seriously healthy brain food,” the restaurant’s utensils and packaging are compostable. The staff is also incredibly patient and helpful, and you can sample the different proteins to see which one you like.

With poke becoming so popular in the city, the lunch rush at the Poke Guy means that the popular proteins and sides get sold out quickly and aren’t replaced for the rest of the day. However, they are looking to add more food options and potentially be open for dinner as well. Take note of this place, and be sure to stop by for lunch if you ever find yourself at Harbour Centre!

This piece was originally published on Delicious Destinations.

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