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Say ‘aloha’ to a fresh Hawaiian speciality

Traditional Hawaiian poke is made using raw yellowfin tuna. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
Traditional Hawaiian poke is made using raw yellowfin tuna. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Say ‘aloha’ to a fresh Hawaiian speciality

Modern new fast food restaurant dishes up bowls of raw fish salad known in the US as poke

Poke – a traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad that’s like a cross between ceviche and sushi – has arrived in Phnom Penh.

Going back centuries, poke (which means “slice” or “cut” in Hawaiian) was traditionally made with raw, roughly cut yellowfin tuna straight out of the ocean, seasoned with sea salt and served with a type of seaweed called limu and crushed candlenut.

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Poki Poke co-owner Takao Nishikawa developed a taste for poke in the US. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

However, over the years, different varieties have been developed utilising ingredients from all the over world. Some poke doesn’t even include raw fish.

The Poki Poke Sushi Restaurant, which serves a Japanese-influenced variety of the dish over rice – what’s popularly known in the US as a “poke bowl” – had its grand opening on Sothearos Boulevard at the start of this month.

It’s a high-end, fast food-style place where customers have their choice of bowls (regular $2.50, large $3.50 and extra large $5) and varieties of vegetables and salads, meat (tuna, white fish, chicken, salmon or shrimp), sauces, condiments and rice.

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Poke has proven popular in Phnom Penh, where sushi is a staple. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Restaurant co-owner Takao Nishikawa said he became a poke devotee while living on the US West Coast. “I used to eat it all the time,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the fresh flavours of raw fish and salad with Japanese-style sauces.

Nishikawa said that, with so many other Japanese restaurants in Phnom Penh, he wanted to serve sushi-style raw fish – sourced from Norway and Thailand – in a different, healthy way.

So far, the majority of customers have been Cambodian, he added. “I am happy to see young people in my shop.”

Poki Poke Sushi Restaurant is located at #71 Sothearos Boulevard and is open from 7am until 10pm. Tel: 017 570 923. Web: facebook.com/pokipokePP.

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