Are you on social media? Are you alive in the Summer of 2017 in Charlotte? Then you have seen beautiful, tempting food shots of Poke and Pho.
It’s hard to get snarky about the sudden, raging popularity of these century-old foods when they are so very tasty and healthy, and we are so very happy they ARE all the rage. You really do need to try them, and we’ve scoped out the best spots for each in this post.
First things first, though.
What are Poke and Pho? and How Do You Pronounce Them?
Poke is pronounced POH-keh. It’s not “Pohk” like with your finger, or POH-kee like pretty much everyone says, but POH-keh.
It’s not a french word, so there is no accent on the “e” to indicate the e’s sound of “ay” or “eh”, even if your favorite menu shows one. While trendy, poke is basically Hawaii’s favorite food and has been around those islands forever. Literally sold at gas stations and roadside stands as well as almost every seafood restaurant. The word poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian, and the dish poke refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish tossed over warm rice and topped with seasonings, sauces, onions and other veggies. Usually served in a bowl (or takeout styrofoam in Hawaii), it’s like sushi deconstructed and easier to eat.
Sushi-grade fish is the star ingredient, most commonly raw yellowfin (ahi) tuna. But many restaurants offer you a choice of fish, including salmon, and local fishmonger and scoop favorite Clean Catch Fish Market has a build your own Poke Bar every Thursday with a nice assortment of options. Ahi Poke is on the menu at several Charlotte sushi and asian restaurants, and a few do offer more options to try – we’re particularly anxious to try those at the not yet opened Umami PokeRito and the new 5 poke bowls menu at Bonsai Fusion.
Umami PokéRito coming soon 7510 Pineville Matthews Road
Sushi Guru 6601 Morrison Boulevard
AHI TUNA POKE 15
DICED AHI TUNA, CUCUMBER, MANGO, SHALLOTS, SCALLIONS, CILANTRO,
MACADAMIA NUTS, AND TOSSED IN SESAME SOY WITH KIMCHEE DRESSING
Pho is pronounced “fuh”. Not foh. Sorry. It’s just not foh, no matter how much you want it to be. Just like Sriracha is not SIR-RACHA but see-ROTCH-ah.
Just in case we’ve made you nervous, here’s a great round up of some other Food Names You Might be Mispronouncing, like Bruschetta and Gnocchi.
Pho is a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, very brothy with your choice of beef meats, served on rice noodles with herbs & vegetables to garnish. In Vietnam, pho is for breakfast, and it’s how the early-rising Vietnamese start their day. The word pho actually refers to the noodles (bahn pho) and Pho Ga is made with chicken instead of beef. The broth is the key to a good pho, we’re told. Long simmering, and seasoned with cinnamon and star anise and often cloves and cardamom.
At most restaurants, when you order beef pho (pho bo) you’ll choose your meat(s):
Tai: Rare thinly sliced eye-round steak
Nam: Thin strips of well done flank steak
Bo Vien: Meatballs
Gau: Fat brisket
And many offer Pho Ga with Chicken, and even Pho Chay: Tofu & mixed vegetables and seafood versions. There are lots of places to grab a bowl of pho in the QC, although we haven’t yet jumped on the pho for breakfast bandwagon.
“My condiment policy with pho is similar to my condiment policy with hamburgers… At Shake Shack, it’s bun, beef, cheese. Done. The same should be the case with pho”… FoodRepublic.com
4201-D Park Road
5110 Park Road 1G, Charlotte, NC 28209
440 E. McCullough Dr. Suite 206. Charlotte, NC 28262
1309 Shamrock Dr. Charlotte, NC 28215
4900 Central Ave. Charlotte, NC 28205
3000 Central Ave Ste 1 Charlotte, NC 28205
5615 South Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28217
5215 South Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28217
18059 W. Catawba Ave Cornelius, NC 28031