What was once a dish exclusive to Hawaii is now on trend in Australia and popping up in restaurants everywhere. Poke, pronounced poh-keh, is a traditional Hawaiian dish of raw fish diced into cubes, and its fresh, healthy appeal is giving Sydneysiders a regular taste of the islands. The Japanese influence on Hawaii comes through as the fish is seasoned with a Japanese-style dressing, seaweed and spring onion - giving it a sashimi salad feel. Some restaurants are running with a hybrid of the two while others are opting for tradition, so here are the top destinations for poke in Sydney, so you don’t have to buy that ticket to Hawaii yet. Apologies.
From Byron to Burleigh, this beloved Queensland joint has now swapped the sand for the city, opening their first Sydney location in Westfield Pitt Street this month. This isn't your run-of-the-mill poké place though - it's chef-driven so you know that every ingredient is top notch and is guided by seasonality and sustainability. Choose from one of their signature bowls inspired by traditional Hawaiin flavours or try one of their winter warming bowls; The Shroom Noodle Soup or the Steak Bowl made with grass-fed Aussie Beef.
Westfield Sydney, Pitt Street
Serving dishes made with local produce, this authentic poke restaurant in the heart of Coogee has an ever-changing menu guided by the seasons. It’s always a perfect meal after a day on the beach. The owner, Candy Wu, discovered the dish after getting married in Hawaii and has visited the island repeatedly ever since to ensure the Sydney restaurant is doing the Hawaiian craft justice.
Shop 3, 55 Dudley Street, Coogee
It may be far from the water, but Salmon and Bear brings the beach to locals in Zetland with poke bowls designed by Mark Jensen. The chef, who is behind Vietnamese restaurant Red Lantern, has spent 15 years taking cooking classes at the Sydney Seafood School and it’s evident in the menu. There are set choices of salmon, tuna or sweet prawn poke mixed with a salad and base (of rice or noodles) or the option to design your own, leaving no diner disappointed.
6 Defries Avenue, Zetland
226 King Street, Newtown
Not your average poke bowl, or to be mistaken for one, Fishbowl offer a Hawaiian poke and Japanese sashimi salad hybrid - and although it doesn’t fit the bill exactly, it’s a dish we couldn’t keep off the list. In under a year, Fishbowl’s first restaurant in Bondi has become such a success, owners Nathan Dalah and Nic Pesto have opened another, much bigger store, in Surry Hills. The bowls are a build-your-own style, starting with a rice, salad or noodle base topped with protein, Japanese-style vegetables, a dressing and then a crunchy topping (yes, we’re talking edamame dust). Not your traditional bowl, but well and truly worth the trip.
180 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Not quite a poke bowl either, Manly Wine are scooping up ridiculously 'gram worthy Poke cones. You're gonna want to wrap your hands around these bad boys, which are filled to the brim with sushi rice, edamame, avo and your choice of either salmon sashimi ($10) or crispy tofu ($8). This mouthwatering innovation may seem unusual, but once you bite into its savoury-but-sweet deliciousness, it'll soon become your favourite beachside snack!
8/13 South Steyne, Manly
Using only the freshest local produce and sustainable Australian seafood, this poke mecca is all about the 'boat to bowl' philosophy. The menu at Nudefish Poke is 100% gluten and dairy free, featuring their homemade sauces and pickles. Best thing? You can either select from their menu of winners (Wasabi Salmon and Pineapple Ponzu Tuna, too hard to pick!) or follow their six-step process to build your own from their list of 41 ingredients!
Bondi Beach, North Sydney and Sydney CBD
Inspiring lunch goals since 2017, CBD-based Nama delivers bowl-sized deliciousness from acai to poke. Whether you want to build your own or choose from the menu, they have a huge selection of protein bases from salmon, prawn and tuna to chicken, kingfish and tofu. For a flavour kick, the Spicy Ahi Tuna bowl with creamy togarashi sauce, pickled carrots, red cabbage, edamame, cucumber, nori and crispy onions is a must. Needing a low-carb option? Switch the rice for zucchini noodles.
62 Erskine Street, Sydney
After their 2011 wedding in Hawaii, the owners behind Poke knew that Sydney would fall in love with the popular, island-style sushi dish. With a huge range on display, you can choose from their signature poke, hot bowls, street tacos or veggie bowls. Satisfying the greatest fits of hunger, the Go Nuts poke, Ahi Tuna with roasted macadamia nuts, is a new classic. To ensure you get the best, ask about their poke of the day and pair it with a kombucha or coconut water.
Shop 3/55 Dudley St, Coogee