Do the Oké Poké at Manchester’s first poke café
After years of fixating on the dirty food revolution borrowed from the barbecue pits of our Stateside sisters – shovelling stacked burgers and loaded fries into our mouths by the bucketload – these days Britain’s becoming more mindful of what it really wants from fast food. It’s now no longer about showing off the lengths your gluttony will go to (or the widths those arteries will have to stretch to) and more about actively seeking out the fresher flavours that will make you feel good.
And while America may not seem like the best place to look for inspiration, over in one of the often-forgotten archipelagic 50th state, there’s a healthy alternative to the greasy fodder of the American mainland. Poké (pronounced poh-kay) is a Hawaiian street food dish that combines diced raw fish, vegetables and other mix-ins, which is on the rise as a lighter, more nutritious replacement for the Western fast food favourites that Britain’s become so accustomed to.
Translating in Hawaiian as ‘chunk’, poké is a centuries-old tradition in Hawaii, which traditionally consisted of readily available ingredients including scraps of reef fish and seaweed. Its modern incarnation stays true to the simple, unprocessed principle of the dish’s revered past. Much like ramen, pho and other heartwarming, soulful styles of bowl food, poke is packed with hints of clean, Asian flavours – sort of like a deconstructed sushi bowl, if you will – to create a more substantial and exciting alternative to your everyday, bog-standard salad.
At Manchester’s first poke café, Oké Poké, you can either go for one of their signature dishes or build your own, whether it’s in the form of a classic poké bowl or a ‘pokérito’. Try the Classic Ahi (sushi rice, tuna, avocado, carrot, wakame, cucumber, spring onion, sesame seeds and classic sauce), Lomi Lomi (quinoa, salmon, cucumber, mango, celery, mixed leaves, spring onion, walnuts and pomegranate sauce), or Tofu Tastic (black rice, tofu, avocado, carrot, celery, edamame, red cabbage, spring onion, chia seeds and Ikiki sauce). Alternatively, construct your own creation from fresh ingredients including sushi rice, quinoa, free range chicken, prawn, avocado, radish, mango, tobiko, crushes walnuts, mint, chillies and ginger, before finishing it up with sauces like tamarind, teriyaki and Oké Poké’s classic blend of soy, ginger and garlic.
"We wanted to open a restaurant that people felt was a healthier option to the regular fast food restaurants in the city centre,” explain co-owners Sougand and Sam. “We felt that there was a gap in the market for us to bring poké to Manchester as we are huge fans ourselves it felt like the right fit'.
Alongside poke, Oké Poké also serves fresh juices, smoothies, protein shakes and infused teas, completing a package that’s healthy, fresh and nutritious. And unlike more classic styles of fast food, with poke speed doesn’t compromise on colourful, unprocessed flavours either, leaving you feeling full, satisfied and energetic without the sluggish aftermath of greasy junk food.