Canada’s First Poke Bar: Pokeh (POKE “EH”! <3 puns!")

Imagine the Hawaiian paradise, sun shining, the ocean waves calmly hitting the beach, laid-back locals, and delicious fresh food! I love Hawaii! It holds a spot in my heart – I got engaged there, married there, and even won a free trip to those beautiful islands (courtesy of SPAM.  Yes, that SPAM!).  The last time we went, I seriously did not want to come back – I even found myself reading a book in the airport titled “Moving to Hawaii: A Step to Step Guide”. Unfortunately, moving to Hawaii will continue to be only a daydream.

But Pokeh brings a small slice of Hawaii to my Canadian home.  In a big way.

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish which consist of fresh fish, rice, and other Japanese inspired seasonings.

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Poke is all about simple fresh ingredients, and until now, there were no poke restaurants in Canada! Luckily for us, Pokeh (“poke – EH”, get it?) opened in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market!

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I recently chatted with Salar Madadi, owner of Pokeh Bar about his inspiration to open the first poke bar in Canada!

The Pokeh Team!
The Pokeh Team!

Salar was working in IT for many years before taking a big risk to follow his cooking dreams with his wife.  They started MeatVentures, a food cart running on weekends travelling around Ontario winning bellies across the province. In November 2015, they opened Pokeh!

They were inspired to open a pokeh after trying their first poke bowl at a local restaurant called Poke Poke during their honeymoon in 2012 in Venice Beach California! They fell in love with the dish and knew Canadians would love it too, and boy were they right!

The Pokeh team decided to open at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market due to the city’s recently-spurred growth and dynamism, and they wanted to get in on ground floor. They even purchase their salmon and a majority of their produce from their fellow vendors at the Market!

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The menu at Pokeh is full of delicious ingredients. You can either pick an already made poke bowl or create your own. If you decide to create your own, you can chose from over 20 different toppings and sauces.  It’s very tempting to include all ingredients and since I could not decide what to add, I decided to go with the “Classic Pokeh Bowl” – ahi tuna, soy, sesame oil, cucumbers, onions, and macadamia nut. You can also choose between white or brown rice and they even have cucumber noodles if you are looking for a carb-free poke bowl! I also added avocado because – why not!?

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Their poke bowl looks and tastes fantastic, Salar’s personal favourite is the spicy bowl (tuna, cucumber, green onion, white onion, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, spicy kewpie mayo, spicy sesame seeds, pickled jalapeno), with jicama, avocado, crispy onions, and taro chips added. Just reading that makes me drool!

I also dragged my cousin Tiffany out and her poke bowl was great too! (Ps: Check out Tiffany’s page: Two Peanuts in a Shell for some great recipes!)

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Make sure you bring cash and an appetite! The latest buzz in the media says that poke will be the latest food trend of 2016.  So what are you waiting for?? Head over to Pokeh at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and let me know how much you love it!

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Thank you Salar for taking time chatting with me and giving me the rundown on their latest biz! Looking forward to another visit, where I’ll certainly close my eyes imagine that I’m back in Hawaii enjoying some delicious poke!

Categories: Eatery Critique

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