North Poke is all about Hawaiian-style poke as opposed to some of the Californian-style poke you might have seen around. This means they marinate their fish, and don't take quite as many liberties with toppings, adding random fruit, veg and add-ons which in their eyes only serve to overpower the fish.
Owner Linda Dang says she wants her Kensington Market restaurant to almost be like a fish market more than anything else. The fish on offer rotates, and they'll sell it in bulk more like how it's done in Hawaii.
The interior is small, but they've actually made do with what they have quite well. Low benches in cheery blue are good for putting down your shopping (or purse, or kids). Though there's no literal seating, long bars against the windows make for a good standing room meal that's perfect for stopping for a quick snack along your way through the market.
Poke bowls come in three sizes, from small for a snack to a large you can barely finish. You can also try three snack-size poke bowls for $15, perfect for those new to poke. We get a large bowl of the Hanalei mix ($14.95), Ahi tuna marinated in ponzu, ginger and citrus topped with edamame, green onion and radish on a bed of seasoned rice, with avocado, wakame and taro chips.
We also sample a snack size of the Big Wave ($5.95), one of the more popular flavours. It's albacore tuna drizzled with oil infused with charred jalapenos, black garlic, mayo, tenkasu, and shallots they pickle right on the counter.
Don't miss ordering their spam musubi ($2.50 or two for $4) - seasoned sushi rice that's been tightly pressed into a rectangular mold, topped with spam and wrapped with a band of nori. They're made to order so you never get a cold one, and there's the option of getting it with teriyaki glazed spam, too. Cheap spam was everywhere during wartime in Hawaii, making its way into tradition.
For something that definitely didn't come out of a can, however, get North Poke to crack open a fresh coconut for you for five bucks.
Photos by Jesse Milns