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Unstoppable Poke Trend Has Infiltrated Kosher Dining Scene

Three kosher restaurants serve poke now

Eden Wok
Eden Wok added a poke bar in August

The indomitable poke trend is now also available to observant Jews — at least three certified kosher restaurants in New York have started to serve poke or will soon.

The newest opening Kureiji is on the Upper West Side at 506 Amsterdam Avenue, as spotted by West Side Rag. It’s apparently a conglomerate of Asian food du jour, serving poke bowls, sushi, and rolled ice cream, the Thai street food that’s been proliferating almost as rapidly as poke restaurants. It will open later this month.

In the past year, two other kosher restaurants have also hopped on the poke train. Murray Hill fast-casual restaurant Eden Wok tore down a wall in the space to make room for a create-your-own poke bowl station, with eight fish or vegetarian options like tuna, salmon, and tofu. Owner Kevin Cohnen debuted it in August and told reporters at the time that he launched it after noticing long lines at neighboring poke shops.

And after kosher pizzeria Bravo Pizza moved to a new, bigger location in Midtown, it added a poke bar at the back of the restaurant. The restaurant — which Eater New York found has some of the best delivery in the neighborhood — decided to start serving poke as a healthy option for the restaurant, partner Alexandria Singh tells Eater. They now also serve quinoa, acai bowls, and shakes with kale. “It’s a really healthy and trendy food,” she says. “We’re just trying to incorporate healthy eating and kosher.”

People have been seeking it out, and the poke bar has been “getting busier and busier every day,” she says.

Poke restaurants were virtually non-existent in New York a couple years ago, and in 2016, the raw fish dish native to Hawaii spread like mad to the mainland in the form of fast-casual restaurants. They all seem about the same, with bowls of rice or mixed greens topped with a variety of raw fish, and backlash to the cheap raw fish has already started in the form of chef-driven versions like Sweetcatch and Poke Chan.

Although it’s difficult to tell any of the restaurants apart, people can still be spotted waiting in line for poke during lunch rush — making it no surprise that it’s spread to kosher restaurateurs, too.

In New York, arguably both the Jewish capital and dining capital of the United States, more and more kosher restaurants have been opening. Last year, the city almost had just as many kosher restaurants as it had French or Indian ones even though keeping kosher is more difficult and expensive, operationally. Still, seems like it’s not slowing down tons. Besides Kureiji, the Upper West Side will soon also get a kosher Mexican restaurant called Noi Due Carne.

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