It’s been a staple in Hawaii for as long as anyone can remember, but now the poke craze is spreading like wildfire on the continental U.S., with eateries popping up left and right.
While it may seem comforting for homesick Hawaii people, others are less than thrilled about the trend.
The Washington Post published a story on Thursday about the latest trend and how a slew of poke restaurants have been opening up across the mainland, including in Washington, D.C. and New York, to name a few.
Even though poke has a long history in Hawaii, the marinated raw ahi tuna has been taking off on the mainland, particularly because it’s branded as healthy and because of its “Instagrammable” appeal. And from a business standpoint, it’s relatively simple to open a shop and easy to prepare.
However, this “mainland poke” has been looking different from what people would normally find in Hawaii stores and restaurants – and some say it doesn’t respect the cultural heritage of the islands.
A handful of shops are offering more toppings than in a frozen yogurt bar – and some are even putting unconventional toppings like kale and corn, the Post reported.
And several restaurants are changing the name of poke – pronounced “po-kay” – to something a little easier to pronounce, like one restaurant in Washington: Poki District.
Gary Ngo, a founding partner of Poki District, did tell the Post that it is “an extra talking point for people” and that despite the complaints, “we never think we are completely 100 percent authentic Hawaiian poke.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also told the Post, “The real thing comes from Hawaii, as far as I’m concerned.”