Hawaiian poke might have just become popular in Australia, but that’s not why Marcus Lalak loves it. “It’s a beautiful cuisine,” says Lalak, owner of the new Bondi eatery, Hooked on Poké.
Traditional Hawaiian poke (“poh-keh”) is quite different from poke bowls popular in America and Australia. “It’s almost like a deli counter,” says Lalak. “They have the fish already marinating in sauces.”
Lalak gutted an old pizza shop to create a space with plenty of sunlight and soft colours. Walls are exposed brick and seating is made from white, cream and natural wood.
Dishes are made fresh. Sashimi-grade fish is served with an assortment of vegetables (pickled, roasted or fresh) over a starch such as rice or green tea soba noodles.
There are five dishes on the menu, or customers can build their own choosing from a list of options. While making your own is nice, Lalak has been perfecting his sauces and poke bowl combinations for months.
“The produce has to be as fresh as possible, but the lynchpin of any of our dishes is the sauce,” he says. The sauces are usually made from seven gluten-free ingredients, and are designed to complement the fish rather than overwhelm it. The spicy soy dressing used in the tuna bowl incorporates three types of chilli flavours – fermented, fresh and chilli oil – but the heat builds gradually rather than being the first thing to hit the palate.
The salmon bowl comes with avocado, pickled cucumber, edamame and pickled daikon radish all dressed in a citrus white miso.
Like the traditional Hawaiian poke, the takeaway option is popular, but Hooked on Poké is a pretty spot to eat in. There are Japanese beers and a regularly evolving wine list that focuses on organic, biodynamic wines.
“Our fish is sustainable, line-caught, and we wanted to take the sustainability route with the wines. We tried to choose unique, boutique wines that cleanse the palate and pair well with the freshness of the food,” says Lalak.
Hooked on Poké
149 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi
Tue to Sat 11am–9pm