WESTWOOD—Westwood welcomed a fourth poke restaurant on Monday, June 5, with the opening of The Poke, located on Broxton Avenue. Originated in Hawaii, poke (pronounced poh-kay) bowls are diced cubes of raw fish served over rice in a soy sauce-based marinade. Garnishes usually include avocados, seaweed, and cucumber.

The Poke joins other Westwood poke establishments, such as Poke Me, Poke Bar, and Sweetfin Poké.

“Everyone knows what poke is, but our store is special because we serve meat and other options for those who don’t enjoy seafood,” owner Kevin Kim told the Daily Bruin.

Sweetfin Poke, which has set up shop in Westwood, has five other locations in Los Angeles: Santa Monica, Topanga, Larchmont, Downtown, and on West Third Street.

As of this year, there are 283 Hawaiian restaurants in California alone, including those that serve poke. By 2020, the number is predicted to increase to 624.

“A long time ago, [poke] was sustenance and a way to eat and survive. Poke in Hawaii was originally reef fish, scored and seasoned only with sea salt, seaweed, or roasted kukui. Fast-forward to today, and it has survived all these years, getting more creative as the years go by,” renowned Hawaiian chef Alan Wong told Eater Magazine.

“The three most common types of poke you see in Hawaii are shoyu poke (ahi, soy sauce, sesame oil, green and white onions, maybe a tiny bit of chili); limu or Hawaiian-style poke (ahi, limu, salt, green and white onions, inamona — roasted, chopped kukui nuts); spicy ahi poke (ahi and a creamy, spicy mayo sauce with tobiko),” Hawaii-based food writer Martha Cheng explained to Eater.

Sweetfin’s co-founder Brett Nestadt indicated poke’s popularity derived from its resemblance to sushi, which has become a staple of popular dining.

“We have gotten to the point where so many people have an appreciation for raw fish, and quality raw fish,” said Nestadt to Eater. He said the restaurant is “giving people these flavors from sushi, at a lower price point, quickly and affordably.”