Poke, anyone? This Hawaiian dish has been making huge waves in the food industry due to its unique presentation and a quality blend of ingredients and spices.
But since its key ingredients include fish, poke isn’t suitable for vegans. So, when you find yourself stuck at poke restaurants, you might be wondering what you can ever eat at a non-vegan place.
Pokeworks has one of the best poke dishes in the country. The restaurant also offers plant-based rice bowls with veggies, and you can even build your own.
So, if you’re also a fan of the poke dish, this article will help you with what you can have at Pokeworks, and what restaurants also offer vegan-friendly poke dishes. Let’s start digging in!
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Pokeworks, Sustainable, And Environmentally-Friendly
Founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Michael Wu with his partners, Pokeworks went from a simple spot in midtown Manhattan that serves authentic Poke dishes to a serial fast-casual restaurant.
Pokeworks has been of the fast-casual restaurants that make the poke craze go beyond the extra mile. The trend has been increasingly popular and Pokeworks did not disappoint. After many trips to the aloha state, the founders started sharing the same goal and vision. Pokeworks was born.
Sushi burrito is crucial to Pokeworks’ success when a short clip describing its build-your-own poke burrito went viral with more than 50 million views.
But Pokeworks isn’t just after the profit. The company is also committed to sustainability as well as protecting the environment. Most Pokeworks locations use reclaimed wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes the responsible use of timbers to protect the forests.
Now headquartered in Irvine, California, Pokeworks today has more than 40 locations with over 100 that are already in the pipeline.
What Is A Poke Dish?
The term poke means “to slice or to cut crosswise” and is a native to the aloha state, Hawaii. The dish is a diced raw fish served with sea salt, seaweed, limu, and candlenut. Some versions also include soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, chili pepper, furikake, wasabi, fish eggs, and Maui onions.
These seasonings are influenced by Asian cuisines, particularly Japanese. Similar dishes include the Philippines’ famous kinilaw, which is a raw diced fish cured with vinegar and served with citrus juice, sour fruits, and sometimes organic coconut milk.
Poke is also similar to Polynesian fish salads such as Ika Mata, Kokoda, Oka, and Ota Ika. The Korean dish called Hoedeopbap and Ceviche, Europe’s Carpaccio and Tartare, and Japan’s Sashimi are also similar to the poke dish.
Pokeworks Vegan-Friendly Options
Luckily for vegans, Pokeworks have joined other fast-casual restaurants in offering vegan-friendly options to its customers. In fact, starting in January 2022, Pokeworks partnered with food tech company OmniFoods to pilot a plant-based Poke version called Garlic Spam Musubi with OmniPork Luncheon.
So to check other vegan-friendly options at Pokeworks, let’s check what’s on the menu that we can order as vegans. Don’t forget to speak with the crew to ensure that there are no animal ingredients involved in your bowl.
Pokeworks also labels its vegan options, so there will be no chance of you accidentally eating fish, meat, or dairy products.
- Signature Works
- Sweet Shoyu Tofu
- Delicious organic firm tofu served with cucumber, sweet onion, blanched kale, edamame, Sweet Shoyu flavor, avocado, green onion, seaweed salad, and sesame seeds.
- Sweet Shoyu Tofu
- Poke Your Way. Here’s the build-your-own poke option where you can choose your toppings, mix-ins, flavors, and two or three proteins.
- Poke Nachos
- Served in nachos with two or three proteins.
- Poke Burrito
- Wrapped with white rice and roasted seaweed with two or three proteins.
- Poke Salad
- Served in fresh romaine and spring mix with two or three proteins.
- Poke Bowl
- Choose your vegan base such as tofu alongside two or three proteins.
- Poke Nachos
- White Rice
- Seaweed Salad
- A flavorful mix of seaweed, select sesame oil, vinegar, kosher salt, and sesame seeds.
- Hawaiian Luau BBQ Kettle Style Chips
- Brown Rice
- Spicy Edamame
- This is Pokeworks’ delicious version of the famous Asian Edamame made with a combination of spices such as togarashi, sugar, and kosher salt.
- Mexican Coke
- S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
- Bubly Sparkling Water
- LIFE WTR
There you have it. Those are the vegan alternative you can have at Pokeworks. All the other items on the menu contain either fish, meat, or dairy products.
Homemade Poke Bowl
If you find it difficult to find vegan-friendly poke dishes around you, or if Pokeworks doesn’t exist in your neighborhood, I only know one thing. Make your own poke bowl at home. It’s healthier and you get to choose the ingredients you like, especially since veganism requires plant-based and organic stuff.
Well, that sounds really cool, right?
So, here’s what I suggest, a delicious vegan poke bowl in tahini sauce.
- 1 cup rice of your choice
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 1 1/2 cup of water
- 2 crispy tofu or chickpeas
- 1 diced cucumber
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded purple cabbage
- 6 pieces of sliced radish
- 2 large julienned carrots
- 1 cup edamame
- 1 diced avocado
- 3 stalks of green onions
- Vegan tahini sauce of your choice
- Sesame seeds
- Limes or fresh lemons
- Sliced jalapeños
- Fresh herbs of your choice
What to do:
- Cook the rice first, add salt, and fluff using the fork, then set aside.
- Prepare the cucumber, cabbage, radish, green onions, carrots, edamame, and avocado.
- Assemble the veggies and tofu into the bowl with the rice, and top with sesame seeds, jalapeños, avocado, and herbs.
- Serve your vegan poke bowl with your choice of tahini sauce and lemon or lime wedges on the side.
Pro Tip: You can choose whatever vegetable you like for your poke bowl. You just need to pick the ones that are rich in fiber and flavonoids. Also, you can make your own tahini sauce if you prefer to make sure that you get to control its taste and flavor.
Vegan Poke Bowl Vs Non-Vegan Poke Bowl
Most vegan foods are lower in calories, sodium, or fat than their non-vegan counterpart. The nutrients also depend on what kind or type of ingredients is used.
But for the most part, vegan food is even healthier due to the fact that it always contains fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals. For a vegan poke bowl with tofu, the calories are a little lower than the raw tuna and salmon poke bowl.
However, the vegan poke bowl’s sodium content is way higher than the raw fish poke bowl although there is zero cholesterol. But this doesn’t change the fact the vegan poke bowl provides healthier nutrients.
Check the estimated figures below.
|Vegan Tofu Poke Bowl (1 serving)||Raw Salmon & Tuna Poke Bowl (1 serving)|
|Calories: 600||Calories: 662|
|Total Fat: 20.3 g||Total Fat: 22 g|
|Cholesterol: 0 g||Cholesterol: 110 mg|
|Sodium: 1422 g||Sodium: 445 mg|
|Total Carbs: 86.4 g||Total Carbs: 81 g|
|Protein: 22.5 g||Protein: 34 g|
The vegan poke bowl is also a good source of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin K while the non-vegan poke bowl mostly lacks these nutrients. However, both are great sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.
As for the vegan poke bowl’s sodium content, I hate to say it, but it’s really high for one serving. You may have to adjust your others meals of the day so you don’t exceed the USDA’s recommended sodium intake of 2,300 mg per day.
It may be too bad if you exceed for a day, but this shouldn’t happen frequently, or you’ll experience adverse health effects sooner or later. When your body ingests too much sodium, symptoms can be serious that you may have to see a doctor.
If you suffer any of the following, consult your doctor if you think your sodium intake is too much.
- Frequent headaches
- Frequent urination
- Swelling in some body parts like the ankles and fingers
- Frequent thirst
- Bland food taste
- Frequent salty food cravings
Serious health issues like an increase in blood pressure that causes strokes and heart disease, kidney failure, and certain types of cancer are what excessive sodium intake brings. It’s always safe to cut down on your intake, or at least balance it out by eating fruits and vegetables.
The Bottom Line
Pokeworks may not be a full-fledged vegan restaurant, but it does offer a great vegan poke bowl option, which is what we’re living for. We definitely love its Sweet Shoyu Tufo Bowl, which is one of its signature works.
What’s more exciting is that Pokeworks also offers a build-your-own poke bowl, which lets you choose the ingredients you need for your food. You just have to choose the healthiest ones so that you get to balance your sodium intake, especially since vegan dishes usually have higher sodium content.
Lastly, I wrote a detailed guide of another poke restaurant that also offers vegan-friendly options for its customers, if you want to check it out.