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.

Clean Catch Seafood Market Made To Order Poke Bowls every Thursday

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.

FIVE new poke bowls at Bonsai Fusion in 7th St Market.
[ Pictured is the new Tuna Poke bowl. It consists of diced tuna, avocado and edamame tossed in a ginger soy sauce with masago, shallots, green peppers and scallions served over rice ] photo | Facebook

Umami PokéRito coming soon  7510 Pineville Matthews Road




Sushi Guru  6601 Morrison Boulevard



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.

Pho at CO. photo | facebook

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
Sach: Tripe
Gan: Tendon
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”…



4201-D Park Road


5110 Park Road 1G, Charlotte, NC 28209

Pho Real

440 E. McCullough Dr. Suite 206. Charlotte, NC 28262 

Lang Van Vietnamese

1309 Shamrock Dr. Charlotte, NC 28215




Ben Thanh

4900 Central Ave. Charlotte, NC 28205

Pho Hoa

3000 Central Ave Ste 1 Charlotte, NC 28205

Vietnam Grille

5615 South Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28217

Saigon Palace

5215 South Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28217

Pho Nam

18059 W. Catawba Ave Cornelius, NC 28031