AUSTRALIA’S FIRST POKE SHOP
In 2009 Ono Yum saw the need for poke on the mainland, so we started the I Love Poke Festival. Going into our 7th year, it’s been nothing but amazing fun and memories that we will keep forever in our tummies. We’ve also witnessed the humble dish that is poke become a mega superstar in Southern California and beyond. Now there are tons of poke restaurants opening up, and tons of restaurants serving poke. Whatever the case, you can definitely get your hands on a decent poke bowl a lot easier than you could a few years ago.
But just because poke is boomin outside of Hawaii and into California, the same is not true in Australia where the concept of poke is not as familiar. That’s where Candace and Sam come in, owners of the first ever poke restaurant in Australia properly named “Poke”. You know you’re really a “Poke Pioneer” when you’re so ahead of the game that you can just name your restaurant “Poke”. Imagine being the first and only beef patty sandwich guy and naming your restaurant “Hamburger”. That’s as O.G. as it gets!
Candace and Sam fell in love with the raw fish dish while in Hawaii for their wedding. They soon after started serving poke at Farmer’s Markets and now they have a full blown flagship store in Coogee NSW (just outside of Sydney) that serves poke along with huli huli chicken, kalua pork, grilled fish tacos and tons more. They take pride in keeping to a healthy ethos and opt to serve wild black rice, gluten free soy sauce and only source local and seasonal seafood. They currently don’t have sticky white rice and mayo heavy delicious mac salad as traditionally served in Hawaii, but they are open and determined to try and find a middle ground somehow, some way. One thing is for sure though, their customers love their fresh food and they have gained quite the reputation for converting non-fish eaters into fish eating addicts.
Candace and Sam are the spark that was needed to create a blazing wild fire of poke in Australia. Not only do they have plans to expand, but I’m sure that the flavors and dishes they introduce to their native land will inspire others to serve the dish as well. It may take years for the poke craze to develop, as we’ve seen in California, but Ono Yum is stoked to know the couple that started it all Down Unda! All our best to the “Poke” crew and we do hope you make it out to compete at I Love Poke as soon as possible! Poke poke poke, oi oi oi!!!!
If you’re a world traveler, surfer adventurist or hard core poke enthusiast, make sure you give our new friends a visit when you’re in the Sydney area!
(All photos courtesy of Poke Australia)