At Ono Poke on busy Edmonds Way, Steven Ono aims to serve some of the region's freshest Hawaiian-style poke.
You never know what varieties of fish you’ll find in the display case when you enter the relaxed environs of Ono Poke.
That’s because the menu changes daily, with owner Steven Ono making up new poke recipes based on what fish he gets and what he wants to eat that day.
“It’s out of selfishness,” Ono jokes, grinning, then, with a hint of seriousness: “Since we get our fish every day, I feel like I have to do the fish justice and make it different every day.”
Ono estimates he’s written more than 100 poke recipes since he opened Ono Poke in Edmonds in March 2017, and he rotates flavors daily.
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“It’s all from my memory, man,” says Ono, who’s from Kahalu’u, Hawaii. “It’s like all these flavors that I’ve grown up eating that I wanted to translate here.”
Tucked into the corner of a strip mall on busy Edmonds Way, across from the Edmonds QFC, Ono Poke might seem like an unlikely location for Steven Ono’s mission: He wants to bring true, Hawaiian-style poke to the Seattle area, but with better-quality fish than most Hawaiian poke places use. My opinion? Mission, accomplished.
My wife and I discovered Ono Poke after friends from our gym in Lynnwood recommended it, and it’s since become one of our favorite post-workout meals.
From the street, the restaurant is nondescript. But upon entrance, you’re transported to Hawaii. Everything from the beachy blue-and-white hues to walls adorned with island scenes to the giant “Mahalo” painted in blue helps re-create a little slice of Ono’s native state.
Chill strains of ukulele music play in the background, which might help alleviate the stress you feel from having to choose among the colorful, mouthwatering array of fish that greets you in the refrigerated display case.
On a recent fall Saturday, my wife and I faced just this sort of dilemma at Ono Poke, staring hungrily at the offerings that ranged from pretty purple-and-white chunks of tako (octopus) to the glowing orange pieces of miso salmon to big, red hunks of ahi with oyster sauce.
We each ordered a regular-size bowl with two kinds of poke ($14.50) and added a third variety of fish for an extra $3. I got the Thai sambal bay scallops, the shoyu limu tako (limu is seaweed) and spicy avocado hamachi (Pacific yellowtail). Wifey picked the traditional ahi, miso masago salmon and spicy salmon. Each bowl comes with generous scoops of poke on a bed of lightly dressed spring mix and sushi rice.
One side comes with your bowl, and an extra $1 gets you a second. Between us, we got vegan cucumber kimchi, mac salad, vegan edamame and seaweed salad.
The tako is satisfyingly springy but not chewy; its sesame oil, limu and tamari seasoning perfectly complement its natural flavor. The scallops are my favorite — cold, succulent little pillows coated in a light sambal sauce with just a hint of spice. The masago mixed in is a nice touch, too.
My wife raved about the plump orange lumps of miso salmon with a touch of green onion, though she found the traditional ahi — dressed simply in inamona (roasted kukui nut), Kahuku limu and sea salt — a little bland.
That, however, is exactly as Ono intended: The lightly seasoned traditional ahi, he says, epitomizes his idea of how real poke should taste.
“Poke to me is pre-marinated, always fresh. It’s simpler,” Ono says. “It’s not this crazy bowl of salad with some avocados and fried onions and this weird sauce that goes on, and Sriracha.”
Ono uses only the freshest, most sustainable sushi-grade fish he can source. The ahi comes from the Honolulu Fish Auction, which only sells tuna caught by hook-and-line, while the scallops come fresh from Boston. The fish is never frozen.
The proprietor’s favorites are the traditional ahi and the tako — tako because it brings back his childhood memories of freediving for tako and eating it fresh off the grill, and ahi because, as he says, “It’s the most naked poke …
“Because it’s the most naked, it has to be the best. To me, that’s the crown jewel of the whole case, because it’s the epitome of ‘everything fresh.’ ”
Prices: Each poke bowl comes with a choice of sushi rice, salad or both and one side. Prices range from $10.50 for one poke choice bowl to $14.50 for a regular-size one or two poke choice bowl, or $17.50 for a large. An additional helping of fish is $3, and an additional side is $1. Beer/cider by the can is $3.50-$5, and sake is $9.
Ono Poke, 10016 Edmonds Way, Edmonds; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 425-361-7064, eatonopoke.com
This article has been updated since it originally posted online to reflect new information about sourcing.