Cheeky Poke Bar takes the traditional Hawaiian dish and turns it into a proper night out. Owner Sam Demetriou had been serving a simple kind of poke at his family’s Portside seafood place, Fresh N Wild Seafood, for years. But an interest turned into an obsession after a trip to Hawaii.
Produce is king here; the elements stay separate – and you pour over your own sauce to stop things getting mushy. The result is a deliciously colourful mosaic of turmeric-coconut rice; proteins such as prawns, raw kingfish or tofu; and seemingly endless fresh add-ons such as enoki mushroom, avocado, pickled ginger and nori.
The menu’s big surprise is the taro crisps, which pack a moreish crunchiness that never feels greasy, heightened by zingy wasabi mayonnaise. Similarly, the nori taco shells feel like a special feat of food engineering. After two months in development, they somehow stay crisp without falling apart like regular hard tacos.
The drinks menu includes a signature beer on tap from Fortitude Brewing; bottled Japanese lagers and cider; and cocktails that keep the fun going – like the Cheeky Collins with a kombucha base, and an Espresso Martini made with miso caramel. There’s also kombucha on tap.
The sunny space of royal-blue walls and bench seating, pale wood and sleek light fixtures beautifully fits this upbeat but sophisticated vibe.