Spring Pink & Santa Monica's Best Poke
Santa Monica’s Sweetfin Poke & Hot Pink on Neutrals
I remember my first poke bowl like it was yesterday. It was long before poke was ever a “thing” in L.A. or any other mainland city for that matter. I’m taking you back in time to 3 and half years ago to August ‘13 when Chris and I were vacationing in Hawaii for the very first time.
I don’t know how we managed such a trip. I was paying my way through grad school as a sports bar waitress and Chris was working a rather lackluster job. Somehow though, we saved the dough to go on our first really big trip together. Crazy that we even conceived such an extravagant plan. I mean, we had only been dating just a little over a year. Most couples would probably opt for a quick cruise or weekend in the Keys (ok, we did those things too). But when we set our minds on travel, we generally, follow through.
Anyway, back to the poke. So the stuff came from a hole in the wall market just outside of touristy Waikiki. We had surf lessons in the morning that drained me of every ounce of energy imaginable. And since Chris is known to get pretty “hangry,” the lessons were immediately followed with some crappy beachside fare that I only ate to survive.
What I really wanted was poke - which at the time, was a foreign thing to both of us. Sure, we had eaten our fair share of sushi but poke seemed so exotic and intriguing. So two hours after the lessons, we found ourselves some poke. A local’s recommendation, the little hole-in-the-wall did not disappoint. Topped with only the necessary (and authentic) poke ingredients (green onion, Hawaiian sweet onions, marinade, and crushed red pepper) the Ahi shined...and also, melted in my mouth. From that day on, I was hooked (see what I did there?).
But it took like a million years until I got my second ever bowl of the stuff. It was when Chris and I first moved to L.A. that I sought out a nondescript joint in Venice Beach just off the boardwalk...an OG L.A. poke shop that in my opinion, is still one of the best.
Now there are poke establishments on every block of L.A. It’s crazy. I would call it a trend but trends eventually dissipate and something that is as good as poke (when it’s actually good) should never go away. But I wouldn’t be too mad if only the good spots survived.
One of those good spots is Sweetfin Poke. I will be totally real with you - it is not true Hawaiian poke. It has about all the frills in the world. But I don’t care. It’s damn good. The fish is always fresh; the service friendly and efficient; and the combinations (while they aren’t exactly authentic) are to die for.
They have like 20 toppings, 5 sauces, and 4 types of fish (plus tofu). I always opt for the Spicy Tuna bowl with bamboo rice. It already comes with a creamy spicy sauce, avocado, and hijiki but I add to it crispy onions (so freaking good), marinated oranges, shaved red onion, napa cabbage, and cilantro. If you live in the L.A area and like poke, I highly suggest you visit Sweetfin and order my go-to combo. It’s pretty legit.
I also love that Sweetfin actually cares about how they source their seafood. Their philosophy is “pole to bowl” as they are very conscious in only serving the most sustainable, high-quality fish they can find - whether it is wild-caught (most of their fish is) or responsibly farmed.
I used to always oblige by the no white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day rule. But screw it. I’m from Florida and live in Southern California. I doubt many people follow that rule these days anyway. I also love me some white jeans. I often wear them with cream or taupe because I’m a sucker for neutrals. But sometimes, you’ve gotta liven up your outfits. And hot pink is just such a fun color to wear (especially if you’re blonde).
Spring is coming, guys. This combo is the season transitional kind. Enough layers to keep me warm but with colors that make even the most dreary of February days bright!