North Poke

Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is Toronto’s trendiest dish of the moment that’s been blowing up our food scene this summer. Originating in Hawaii, poke is essentially a raw, marinated fish salad that’s traditionally paired with rice, a mixture of vegetables and a savoury sauce. The newly opened North Poke is the spot to dive into the city’s most authentic Hawaiian poke.
Inspired by her travels to Hawaii where she fell in love with poke, owner Linda Dang realized that this fresh and flavourful dish had real promise here in Toronto. Located in the culinary melting pot that is Kensington Market, North Poke resembles a traditional dine and dash poke shop where guests can browse their options through a counter before deciding. The bright and airy space has a real Hawaiian vibe, decorated with a mural that reads “Aloha” along with beautiful floral patterns. Transparency is key at North Poke, where customers can eagerly watch the entire process from the fish being filleted to their poke bowls being prepared.

Unlike some poke shops that add sauce on at the last minute, North Poke is adamant about marinating their fish for hours to make the flavours more intense. Their no-nonsense menu is made up of classic staples and seasonal items that focus on the quality of fish instead of flashy toppings. The Hawaii Classic epitomizes a traditional poke bowl, made with ahi tuna, shoyu dressing, cucumber, sweet onions, noru, toasted sesame, fried shallots, avocado, house classic aioli, macadamia nuts, green onions and seaweed salad.

North Poke brought on Vancouver-based chef Juno Kim to add his creative, culinary flair to some of their poke bowls. Kim created The Big Wave and the Shack Special, which both bring a unique spin to traditional poke with inventive toppings. The Big Wave is a saucy sensation made with albacore tuna, charred jalapeno citrus dressing, black garlic, mayo, pickled shallots and tenkasu, while the Shack Special has that addicting umami flavour with salmon, gochujang dressing, kimchi crema, radish, fried shallots, scallion and microgreens.

One of North Poke’s most popular, seasonal dishes that tends to sell out is the Ono. The only cooked option on the menu, this comforting bowl is made up of octopus, potato, baby kale, roasted red peppers, chorizo oil, smoked lemon aioli and caper-infused breadcrumbs. For a tasty side snack, the Spam Musubi (resembling a spam sushi) was a real knockout. It tasted just like a sushi hot dog! North Poke customers will soon be able to pair their poke bowls with refreshing shaved Hawaiian ice.

Essentially a mixture of sushi and a make-your-own-salad-bowl, poke also speaks to the health-conscious foodie. We think this Instagram-worthy food trend is here to stay in Toronto, and you can find the real deal at North Poke.