NYC’s epicenter of the poké revolution

By Kat Odell

Funny how fast things change. Not so long ago, finding any mention of poké on a menu in the city was a curious novelty, but in the last three years or so, enterprising chefs from Los Angeles to New York have given the traditional Hawaiian appetizer a modern spin with innovative ingredients, resulting in an entirely new sub-genre that has obviously hit the spot for an audience with a taste for raw treatments from sushi to ceviche. Leading the scene in New York, Pokéworks opened in late 2015 as one of the city’s first poké concepts.

Since its inception, this sliver of a space on Thirty-Seventh Street has drawn lengthy lines that snake down the block. Once inside, diners find plenty reason to have braved the wait, faced with a menu stacked with poké variations that run from the traditional to the modern.

The “Signature” dishes offer preconfigured poké options for any palate. If you’re leaning authentic, go for the Hawaiian Classic: ahi tuna with ogo seaweed and cucumber, mixed with green and sweet onion, chile flakes, sesame seeds and sesame oil. For a twist, the spicy ponzu albacore bowl brings citrus and kick with mango and spicy furikake. Regardless, you can count on sustainably sourced fish, unless you’re skipping the seafood entirely. That’s right—more outré poké renditions come together with spicy ginger chicken or even tofu tossed with kale and chile.
The other way to go is to choose your own adventure, creating your own bespoke poké bowl, poké salad—with greens in place of grains—or even poké burrito (essentially a massive sushi roll plumped with fish and rice and bundled in nori seaweed). The options and combination are practically endless: More proteins, like shrimp, scallops, and salmon; more mix-ins, too, like edamame, kale, cilantro, and orange. Flavors go deeper with choices like wasabi aïoli to sweet chile gochujang, toppings from avocado to pickeld ginger, and crunch from roasted macadamia nuts, toasted rice puffs, and more.

Pokéworks hit Midtown Manhattan hard with its debut, and after just one quick year, they’re jamming out with five new outlets both in and out of New York City, plus another eleven planned in the next few months–two of which will be opening shortly near Grand Central and Union Square. This translates to good news for patrons of the Midtown original: Those long lines just got a little bit shorter.


Mon–Fri 11 AM–9 PM; Sat–Sun11 AM–8 PM

price range

$10.95 (bowl or burrito) and up