Fishing for the Best Poke in Irvine


Aneska Smith

Each poke shop has many toppings that customers can choose from in order to customize upon arrival. Despite the fact that many of the stores had similar toppings, all three of the poke bowls created an explosion of different flavors bursting in our mouths, contributing to a unique experience each time.

Helena Hu, Annie Qiao, and Aneska Smith

A simple bite of the combination of light, fluffy rice, tender, raw fish and a sprinkle of traditional Hawaiian or Asian garnishes is enough to bring joy to poke-lovers everywhere. Poke, originally a staple in Hawaiian cuisine, has quickly gained popularity over recent years. Its growing popularity makes it clear why the website Eater has called the dish “the bowl of the movement” and “a taste of the tropical.”

We tried three poke restaurants in Irvine to see which restaurant was best in terms of quality, environment, cost and quantity of fish. We attempted to maintain a standard order of sushi rice, tuna, salmon, ginger, green onions and the store’s house sauce for consistency.

Pokenoya (216 Technology Dr J, Irvine, CA 92618)

For $10.12, customers receive a regular-sized bowl with three scoops of protein, a reasonable price given that the bowl also came with crab meat. We were overjoyed to discover the fish to be succulent, juicy and soft. Pokenoya also had the greatest amount of fish in the bowl and the best fish-to-rice ratio, ensuring that we finished the bowl with virtually no extra rice. However, the bowl had a distinct lack of sauce that we felt would have contributed more to the dish’s flavor. The greatest downfall to this poke restaurant is its location; the store, located in a small plaza in a business district, was difficult to find and had limited indoor and outdoor seating.

Pokeworks (15333 Culver Dr #410, Irvine, CA 92604)

As we walked into the clean store and saw its white-tiled walls and neon sign, we were happy to agree the store had the nicest interior. A regular-sized bowl with two scoops of protein, however, had a high price of $12.72. Some other let downs included the limited number of fish and the tough, nearly frozen crab meat, but the Pokeworks classic sauce was the perfect light mix of sesame and soy flavor. While we were disappointed to see that avocado cost an extra dollar, the store definitely had the greatest topping variety, with unique options such as orange slices, mango cubes, lotus chips and toasted rice puffs. While the fish quality of Pokeworks did not quite match that of Pokenoya, the topping and sauce variety, soothing ambience of the plaza and plentiful seating make the store a go-to when hanging out with friends or family.

Poke Me: (18066 Culver Dr, Irvine, CA 92612)

Poke Me is located in University Park Center by University of California, Irvine, making it a longer drive than the other stores. We were excited to see that there were self-serve toppings such as ginger and corn, but we were disappointed with the overall quality of the bowl. This location had the least amount of fish, with only two small scoops for the price of $11, as well as the least amount of variety in toppings. Poke Me did not offer a special sauce, so we opted for the standard ponzu, which was not bad, but nothing special. On a higher note, we really enjoyed the fresh rice. The warm rice paired with the colder fish and toppings was a pleasant surprise. The lack of toppings is a major downside, but Poke Me is only a good option if you are craving poke and happen to be in the area.


Pokeworks was ultimately our winner in terms of an overall experience. It offers the most variety in toppings and sauces, something the other places lacked. Pokeworks is also perfectly located in the bustling heart of Irvine, making it an easy commute for any person looking for a great bowl of poke.