How a bowl of raw fish became the next big thing in fast food

sweetfin poke

Sweetfin Poke/Facebook

Poké has been popping up everywhere.

If you haven't yet heard of poké (pronounced POH-kay), that's bound to change soon.

A wave of restaurants serving this Hawaiian raw-food specialty have crashed into the New York City - and national - dining scene, bringing the next phenomenon in fast-casual food.

Poké is a mix of raw cubes of seafood (usually ahi tuna or salmon) in a soy sauce-based marinade. It's often garnished with seaweed, cucumber, avocado, or tobiko, and served over rice or greens. Ubiquitous in Hawaii - you can pick it up at grocery stores or even gas stations - poké is a deconstructed, flavorful version of sushi. It's also generally healthy and endlessly customizable.Advertisement

It also doesn't hurt that, as Bloomberg has pointed out, it's much more economical to open a poké spot compared to a traditional restaurant, which requires industrial-strength cooking equipment and a venting system.

Raisa Bruner contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article.