Poke It puts a new spin on traditional Hawaiian-style dishes

If asked what the biggest food craze is right now in San Diego, your answer might well be “poke.” And you would be right.

With poke restaurants opening all over the county, there’s nary a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to the Hawaiian-style bowl. So how do you innovate on a popular trend?

Poke It might just have the answer. Incorporating a distinctly Mexican flavor into the mix, the restaurant offers toppings such as fried jalapenos, grilled corn, guacamole and chicharrónes made from salmon skin. In addition, there is an al pastor-style salmon on the menu, with the the poke-cut fish marinating in a traditional Mexican sauce and topped with guacamole, pineapple-habanero jam and pickled red onion.

And don’t miss out on the ricetadas and riceburgers. Sarah Abadi, partner and GM of Poke It explains the inventions, “We try to challenge your traditional thought of what poke is by serving it in formats that are traditionally considered Mexican, like burritos, tostadas and tacos.”

Here’s the scoop: sushi rice is pressed and fried into either ricetadas, which are topped with a variety of combinations, including shrimp marinated in an aguachile-style sauce of habanero and cilantro salsa, cucumber, avocado and red onions, or fashioned into larger patties to serve as “bread” for riceburgers with things like ribeye teriyaki with cabbage salad, avocado and sriracha sandwiched in between. The taco shells? A clever twist on the Mexican favorite, made with crispy fried seaweed and crusted with panko breadcrumbs.

Grupo Abadi, with a decade of experience running restaurants, breaks the mold with its first restaurant in the United States. Launched more than 40 years ago by Moises Abadi, Grupo is involved in a variety of industries, including the new NewCity Medical Plaza in Tijuana. Wanting to get involved in a poke-centric concept, son Isaac wanted to bring a twist to the trend. After brainstorming sessions, the family of Moises, sons Isaac and Jose, daughter Sarah, and cousins Zury Duek and Jose Cattan, decided on their cultural heritage as a perfect approach.

“Coming from a Mexican background and with Mexican food being so popular in our region, incorporating a Mexican twist was a no-brainer,” Sarah remarked.

This team now makes up the ownership of Poke It, along with chef Julio Rodriguez, who was responsible for testing and perfecting each dish.

Menu items include the Kraken with octopus, chili powder, chipotle mayo, avocado, and mixed cabbage; Greek Salmon Ricetada with tzatziki and salmon chicharron; and Tuna Riceburger with surimi salad, sunomono and avocado.

Thirsty patrons can choose from a range of craft beers, sake and agua fresca. For first timers, Sarah suggests trying the Ribeye Riceburger, or if seafood is your jam, the salmon al pastor tacos.

When asked her favorite build-it-yourself bowl, she happily replied, “I love a mix of sushi rice and lettuce for the base, teriyaki ribeye, pickled onions, tsugumono, grilled corn, edamame, fried jalapeño and our Poke It sauce.” And to drink? “I pair it with the ‘sakerindo’ cocktail, (which is) sake mixed with tamarind agua fresca over ice, and a chamoy rim to give it a spicy kick.”

690 University Ave., Hillcrest, 619.773.6486, pokeitsd.com

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