Steppin’ Out – Let’s Poke, Placerville

I had never experienced Hawaiian Sushi and, if you recall, an earlier attempt with a friend to have lunch at Let’s Poke’, which is located at 3182 Center Street in Placerville, failed because the employees couldn’t get to the restaurant due to heavy snow. Unfortunately, David, who owns the restaurant with his family, had to delay opening and we were way too hungry to wait. Well, the second try worked. It was open and we had lunch.

Let’s Poke’ Hawaiian Sushi Bar is a family-owned and operated restaurant offering an incredible “fast-casual” dining experience by preparing tasty, super healthy food that captures the wonderful flavors and freshness of the islands.

Poke’ (pronounced Poh keh) translates from Hawaiian as “to cut or slice into small pieces.” It is a delicious, healthy raw sashimi based food from Hawaii.

Traditionally, Poke is ahi or salmon tossed with shoyu (soy sauce), sesame oil, onions and sesame seeds creating a savory, unique food for adventurous eaters. At Let’s Poke’ you get more: cubed fish, shrimp or tofu marinated in delicious Japanese-inspired condiments and served with various sauces and other ingredients.

As I mentioned, I was new at this, so I let my friend and neighbor, Mike Long, go first. He is a great fan of Poke’ and knew what to do.

Your food is prepared in front of you as you walk along the counter. It is kind of like having a burrito made at Fresh Mex Express or Chipotle.
You start with your base, which they put in a separate bowl. Choices are: white rice, brown rice, spicy kale salad, Spring mix, wonton chips or half and half.

Mike had told me he is not wild about rice, so normally he takes Spring mix. I am a bit more adventurous and like a bit of texture, so I picked the spicy kale.

Step two is to select your Poke’. Choices are Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Yellow Tail Tuna (hamachi), shrimp or tofu. The fish is raw, the shrimp is cooked and the tofu is vegan.

Your choice of Poke’ is dressed with red onions, Wasabi and pickled ginger, if you wish, and the seasoning of your choice from this list: sea salt, chile flakes, Furikake seasoning, garlic or sesame seeds.

I wanted a sampler and had a scoop each of the tuna, salmon and yellow tail, along with some wasabi and pickled ginger.

Mike is a fan of hamachi, so he had three scoops of that, but I am not sure what seasonings he chose or what he added beyond that since I was overwhelmed with the choices that followed.

The next step is to pick your sauce. Your choices are: Ono (soy, ginger and garlic) spicy aioli (Sriracha, mayo and lemon juice), Ponzu (citrus and soy), creamy miso (soy bean paste and mayo) and their House Hawaiian BBQ (creamy and tangy with hints of BBQ).

The final step is the addition of toppings, and there is quite a list from which to pick: Surimi (imitation) crab, edamame, peanuts, cucumber, Wakame seaweed salad, jalapeños, mango, pineapple, radish, three types of Masago (fish eggs) in traditional, jalapeño and habanero flavors, green onions, dried onions, coconut and cream cheese bites.

As they are added, the ingredients are mixed and then finally placed in the bowl with the base ingredient.

We found seats at a table in their nicely decorated dining room, poured ourselves glasses of the free fruit infused water and started on our meal. I really liked it. The fish and other ingredients were fresh and I had never tasted some of the delicious Hawaiian flavors. Although I didn’t expect it to be, it was quite filling.

I probably added way too many flavors with the sauces and such and next time would be more selective and, as a fan of raw fish, have the fish added last so I could taste it unadorned.

Mike, who was really enjoying his Poke’ bowl, had also ordered us a sample of their Kalua Pork, which you can also get in a bowl if you want something different from the seafood.

Kalua Pork is generally cooked in a pit in the ground, but theirs is cooked for 14 hours in a brown sugar pineapple marinade and then served over rice.

Our sample was bare, but came with a couple of sauces to dip it in. I liked the Hawaiian BBQ sauce, which is very close to another sauce I like called Alabama White Barbecue Sauce.

In addition to the Poke’s bowls and the Kalua Pork bowl, you can also get their salads with toppings. To go with your food there are soft drinks, lemonade and fruit infused waters.

Let’s Poke’ Hawaiian Sushi is located at 3182 Center Street, where Z-Pies was located, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information you can call them at 916-254-3826.

Note: After I finished this, Let’s Poke’ made changes and added to their menu. Check their Facebook page for changes and upcoming additions.

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