Jumping on the national phenomenon, Atlanta restaurants have recently brought poke into our lives. Poke has hit other cities with huge acclaim; foodies in New York, Seattle, Vancouver, all of California have fallen for this healthy, originally Hawaiian raw fish salad.
A typical poke dish essentially consists of raw fish – like tuna or salmon – which is then mixed with soy sauce, wasabi, and a delightful array of potential toppings including seaweed, onions, crab, sesame oil, and avocado. This mixture can be eaten alone or on top of rice.
I first tried poke in San Diego and then in New York, and immediately searched where I could find this delicious and exceptionally healthy dish in Atlanta. I first found Saltyard in Buckhead, which offers absolutely unparalleled salmon poke tacos.
Saltyard’s salmon poke tacos feature a crispy shell and chunks of salmon in a sauce with a perfectly savory blend of flavors. Topped with a heaping amount of roe and aioli, the first bite of fish melts in your mouth. The crunch of the taco shell adds a nice textural contrast with the luscious fish.
Additionally, O-Ku Atlanta in West Midtown offers two different types of poke – a tuna poke salad and a poke bowl with two types of fish – both tuna and salmon. I tried the poke salad first, and it was light and refreshing. Green apple slivers provided a citrus edge, while avocado added a soft richness to each bite.
After a few melt-in-your mouth bites of flavorful nigiri, tempura oysters topped with kimchi tartar aioli, and a mango “Tatsu Samurai” cocktail (I could have consumed ten of these!), I had the chef’s special poke bowl.
The fish in beautifully arranged bowl was cut in perfect little cubes and surrounded by daikon radishes, cucumber, and avocado, then topped with a tempura lotus chip. The fish practically melted in my mouth. Enjoy this dish as you watch the sun set from the intimate rooftop deck at this Midtown haven.
Also worth visiting for a great poke dish: Lure in Midtown proper (on Crescent Street). Lure offers a Yellowfin tuna poke paired with pineapple and peppers.
Other newcomers Fishbowl and Appa’s offer on-the-go poke bowls. Fishbowl allows customers to customize their bowls with different varities of rice, fish, toppings, sauce, and more. Appa’s popped up for just the summer at Irwin Street Market, and lines trailed around the market’s backyard every Sunday as eager Eastsiders and Beltline walkers waited wistfully for a legendary bowl or poke burrito. I can’t wait until next summer for round two of Appa’s!