Say "Aloha" to the Dish of the Summer
While the poke trend has swept coastal cities, the Hawaiian raw fish dish is finally catching on in Chicago, and we’ve got Aloha Poke Co. to thank for taking the first leap. Tucked inside the bustling Chicago French Market amidst a cornucopia of aromas and food vendors, this casual new poke spot slings some of the freshest and most vibrant food in town, and all at an accessible price point considering the abundance of ingredients stacked into the bowls.
For a footnote explanation of poke, thing of it as sushi deconstructed and re-configured. Pristine raw fish is of the utmost importance, and it’s the clear focal point, adjoined by complimentary ingredients like all-important rice, vegetables, sauces and seasonings. It’s a fairly straightforward formula, but one not just anyone can execute effectively. Simplicity isn’t as easy as you’d think. At Aloha, proper sourcing is paramount, ensuring each poke bowl is brimming with a veritable rainbow of tastes, from edamame and pineapple, to sweet Maui onions, sliced avocado, toasty sesame oil and a tangy yuzu ranch. Then of course there’s the fish itself, available with ahi tuna or salmon.
Adopting a customizable approach, Aloha allows guests to pick their size bowl, their base (white rice, brown rice or mixed greens) and either marinated or “naked” tuna, salmon or even tofu. The best way to experience poke here, especially considering Aloha marks Chicago’s first dedicated poke restaurant, is with the 808 bowl. With a name inspired by Hawaii’s area code, this is the big kahuna, made with all the ingredients layered with the fish of your choice. That means rice seasoning, cucumber, onion, seaweed, jalapeño, edamame, pineapple, ginger, scallion, avocado and tobiko. Showcasing varying textures and flavors, it’s a thoroughly delicious foray into Hawaii’s answer to sushi, and it’s very clear that poke is on the cusp of enormous popularity in the Windy City.