Playful Cambridge boîte Little Donkey tends to take typical dining convention and kick it out the window, and this version of tuna poke fully fits the vibe. That is to say, it’s like none other: Redolent of fiery gochujang (Korean fermented pepper paste) and topped with crispy pickled bean sprouts and fried onion strings, it’s quite a flavor bomb. Try it with The One In the Grapefruit, a house-favorite cocktail (served in a grapefruit, of course) that’s equal parts smoky, fruity, and fun.
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Boston doesn’t have much in common with Honolulu, except that both coastal capitals appreciate great seafood prepared simply to highlight its natural flavors. Enter, poke. The dish from Hawaii that rhymes with “OK” is all about raw fish, cubed and marinated in savory ways. Here’s where to find the best tuna poke in Boston.
Tora Japanese Restaurant
In Chinatown and craving poke? Check out this subterranean spot, which specializes in kaisen don, or rice bowls with sashimi. Tora Japanese Restaurant’s knife cuts are on point, so along with those slim slivers of seafood they also rock an awesome poke menu, with big chunks of tuna, salmon, or shrimp with a colorful array of toppings. We love the Tuna and Salmon Spicy Shoyu Poke, with plump edamame and crispy wonton crisps.
The Nautilus Pier 4
Island favorite The Nautilus—Nantucket Island, that is—does a version of Hawaiian tuna poke so nice, they serve it twice: This dish is also on the menu at the brand-new waterfront The Nautilus Pier 4 in the Seaport. It’s a duo in the bowl, too: Atop al dente sushi rice with a seaweed salad and ripe slices of avocado, it’s two side-by-side scoops of fresh fish, one tossed in a zippy dynamite sauce and the other simply shining with Indonesian soy and yuzu.
Manoa Poke Shop
The takeout-only Manoa Poke Shop is where to go when you’re craving authentic Hawaiian food in Boston. This corner spot in Somerville is currently open Friday through Sunday (though it also caters), but it’s worth planning a visit for generous poke bowls well-packed with rice, creamy mac salad, kimchi cucumbers, and your choice of pokes and proteins. (Aloha spirit? No extra charge.) From tamari-marinated yellowfin and salmon to tender, shredded kalua pig, these pros source seafood and pork like they are still on island—it’s that fresh and flavorful.
There’s a lot to love at Myers + Chang, the South End’s beloved Chinese-y diner. It might be easy to overlook their version of a poke bowl, but you shouldn’t. With shoyu tuna and spicy salmon, it features delectable seafood and combines clean, complementary flavors. Drizzled in a creamy, piquant sauce and served with rice, cucumber, and sesame crisps, it makes a satisfying solo supper, but it’s also a light and flavorful component of any pan-Asian feast.
You’ll find tuna poke on the raw bar menu of Black Lamb, which means it’s a palate-cleansing serving that comes on ice rather than in a behemoth bowl with rice. You won’t miss the carbs, thanks to the crunchy addition of macadamia nuts, which lends just the right texture. Toothsome cubes of avocado and spicy red slivers of chili round out the petite plate, a refreshing dish that’s an ideal opener for a casually luxurious dinner at this South End brasserie. Bonus: it pairs perfectly with a Pimm’s Cup.