Better than a Poke in the Eye

New takeaway serving up an Island twist on a Polynesian dish

First, let’s set the record straight: there are many iterations and spellings, but the pronunciation is always PO-KEH. If one really wants to impress their friends, they should consult the YouTube video by KaiKalaPro where he explains the full pronunciation and origins of the word.

So why would one need to know how to pronounce it? To place your order, of course, because it’s coming to Souris Beach Gateway Park this June. Just in time to herald the summer season, the light yet filling dishes will be served up thanks to local residents Cara Eastman and Jason Tompkins.

“When we were in Japan in January, we were out to eat and we had some poke and really loved it,” Eastman said. She previously managed a restaurant in Halifax and has wanted to branch out with her own restaurant for some time. Growing up in Souris, she is happy to return to her roots and bring with her a unique restaurant to the area.

If you are unfamiliar with poke, that’s not surprising. It’s a dish that was traditionally a snack of fishers in Hawaii, using the cut-offs from their catch and adding seasoning. Usually the fish was seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, or other Japanese or Asian-influenced additions. The dish has only become popular outside of Hawaii and western US in the past few years. Canada saw its first poke shack open in Ontario in 2016 with a few others following across the country. The Poké Shack will offer these traditional bowls of greens and rice, topped with fish and sauces.

“We’ll have a variety of fish, PEI has such great fish so why not showcase as much as we can,” Eastman said. Their menu will offer lobster, snow crab, and shrimp. “We will do some of the yellowfin tuna but then once our [tuna] season begins we want to showcase the fact that we have really awesome bluefin tuna to offer right from local.” They will focus on wild caught and locally sourced seafood whenever possible. The sauces available for the poke bowls will be both sweet and savory, with different levels of heat so that diners can customize their meal.

The Poké Shack can be found just as you enter Souris and it will open on June 1. Eastman has simple desires for the season. “I just hope that locals come in and try it, or anybody from across the Island that wants to make the drive to Souris and have a taste. It’s gonna be really fresh, fresh greens and rice and whatever meat you want. It’s a really fresh, light lunch. I just want people to come and taste it and see that we have really great seafood that’s fresh from the ocean.”

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A diverse group of people, the Salty team works hard each month to bring you great stories about PEI's food and farming community.

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