Poke—the raw-fish salad ubiquitous in Hawaii—is having a moment. Poke joints are popping up all around the Sacramento region to the delight of diners seeking a customizable, fast-casual meal that doesn’t involve a tortilla the size of a bike tire. Traditionalists may scoff at some of the modern-day interpretations of poke, which, in its most basic form, consists of cubed fish (usually tuna) mixed with sesame oil, salt, soy sauce and onions. But this is California, after all, where experimentation is the rule. We checked out three local spots where the poke approaches perfection.
Fish Face Poke Bar
The brainchild of restaurateur Billy Ngo of Kru fame, this casual eatery opened in Warehouse Artist Lofts in 2015. (Ngo has since opened a second location at Milagro Centre in Carmichael.) Build your own bowl or put your fate in the kitchen’s hands and order one of the daily specials off the board. Fish Face offers more protein options than most poke places (sturgeon, anyone?) as well as an eclectic beverage menu that includes everything from Silk Road sodas to sake. Expect a wait at lunch when the crowds hit. 1104 R St., (916) 706-0605; 6241 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, (916) 283-6000; fishfacepokebar.com
Fishology Poke Bar
What Fishology lacks in atmosphere (it’s located in a nondescript shopping center and is void of much character inside), it makes up for in pleasant, helpful service. Never tried their creamy miso dressing before? They’re happy to give you a sample. Want to combine sauces? Of course you can! And in case you’re a poke novice, staffers are quick to offer advice about popular topping combinations. Virtuous diners can wash down their poke with a bottle of organic pressed juice from Liquidology. The rest of us will take ours with a macaron ice cream sandwich, thank you very much. 2784 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 587-1899
This bustling joint hits all the right notes, offering all the typical poke proteins—ahi, yellowtail, salmon—along with a few surprises, including langostinos, clams and barbecue albacore. Get back to basics with the naked poke or give your bowl the works with any number of toppings and dressings. (We’re partial to the ono spicy sauce.) Hokee Poke rounds out its menu with an impressive lobster roll (come hungry—it’s a handful) and wonton nachos served sweet or spicy. 8698 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 627-1598; hokeepoke.com