Six of the Best Poke Places in O.C.

The Hawaiian specialty of seasoned raw seafood marinated in soy sauce is booming on the mainland, with plenty of new options.

Orange County’s penchant for poke (pronounced poh-KAY) is riding a big wave and making an impact on coastal California’s culinary scene. Beyond stalwart Bear Flag Fish Company, here are six of the best places to get your fill of fusion-style and original seasoned raw fish.

Poke Orange County
The Low Key Poke Joint

Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi

1 The Low-key Poke Joint
The Shoyu the Way soy-based sauce at this local favorite provides the most balanced twist on the traditional shoyu poke this side of the Pacific. The lightly sweetened dressing is evocative of sauces used in Southeast Asian cuisine and pairs well with bites of fi sh, jalapeno sauce, and ginger (the latter two are available as gratis toppings). Low-key also offers non-traditional dressings and toppings, such as Hot Cheetos, $9 to $11. 9904 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, 714-591-5765, thelowkeypokejoint.com

2Cubed
Astute observers of O.C. life might call Cubed “mall food,” but Union Market has a bona fide Hawaiian inspired hit. Cubed is helping to breathe life into the once-troubled space in Tustin. Ringing true to its name, Cubed’s poke features large rectangles of well-trimmed fish (salmon, yellowtail, tuna) as well as octopus. The bowls at Cubed are not heavily seasoned, and the garlic ponzu, which pairs well with nearly all of the proteins, is akin to a properly made Caesar salad dressing: flavorful, but not overwhelming. The basic build-your-own bowl results in a perfectly refreshing meal. Pro tip: Avoid street-side dining and sit at Union Market’s Central Bar to sip a glass of prosecco with that sushi quality seafood. $9 to $10.50. 2493 Park Ave., Tustin, 714-258-8182, cubedpoke.com

3 Calipoke
The most outstanding feature of Calipoke’s local twist on the favorite is its rice base, with its recognizable dose of rice vinegar. Go with a bowl that’s not overwhelmed by too many toppings. We recommend the excellent marinated onions and the seaweed salad. Enjoy the sushi-esque rice with a drizzle of the original sauce (a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil) on your choice of fish, including spicy tuna, salmon, and yellowtail. The sake and Sapporo on draft will calm your nerves if the lack of parking at this location at The Lab gets you rattled. $9 to $12. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714‑280‑4720, cali-poke.com

4 Da Hawaiian Kitchen
Da Hawaiian Kitchen prides itself on bringing the best of the islands to Orange County. Poke is served in only one iteration: ahi tuna, shoyu, sesame oil, limu seaweed, and sea salt. The simple, marinated tuna, served up in sizable chunks, transports you to our 50th state. Think of it as a starter dish here as this restaurant’s complete kitchen offers a range of Hawaiian dishes, such as the kalua pig, and the lau lau plates, and poi that’s “flown in fresh from Hawaii.” If you’re looking for the entire experience, this Surf City shack is your go-to. $9 to $18. 9842 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-968-8900, dahawaiiankitchen.com

5 Fins Poke Fusion
Fins is known for the chunkiest seafood on the local poke circuit. For an experience closer to a Japanese chirashi bowl, which offers larger slices of raw fish, this is the place. Even more intriguing is the restaurant’s poke taco. Its light, crispy, Tex-Mex-inspired shell provides a welcome contrasting texture to the fish, showing off the restaurant’s ingenuity. $6 to $11. 28251 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, 949-542-7466; 513 North Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, finspokefusion.com

6 Uroko Cafe
This cafe offers a massive selection of proteins: nine seafood options as well as tofu and edamame. These choices, in addition to the large, airy space and convivial staff, encourage visitors to relax and overstuff their bowls. The variety continues, with choices of three bowl sizes, six bases, eight toppings, and three sauces (including four levels of spiciness in the house marinade). The garlic chips combined with the original hot dressing are the perfect toppers to a powerful rice bowl. Enjoy it with a glass of the Kirin beer on draft. $8 to $12. 3030 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714‑436‑5798, urokocafe.com

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