Best Poke

A staple in Hawaii, poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a refreshing appetizer or side dish typically made with raw fish, limu (algae), inamona (roasted, crushed candlenut) and sea salt. Here on the mainland, it is often reimagined but seldom perfected. Royal Hawaiian gets it right. At the tikitastic Laguna Beach landmark, the dish shines in its simplicity. Chef James Harris takes vibrant ahi tuna; dices it into tiny cubes; tosses it with soy sauce, chile pepper, sesame oil, lime and a bit of ginger; and serves it with crisp, airy wontons. The blend is addicting, though it is the freshness of the fish that reigns. Close your eyes, take a swig of the restaurant's famously potent rum drink, the Lapu Lapu, and you'll feel as though you're on an island vacation. Well, almost. $$

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