Ready for a culinary vacation? Sometimes you don’t have to fly to paradise to surround yourself with island vibes and tastes. Last weekend, I got to experience ONO YUM’s I Love Poke event in Orange County, and got to try the BEST poke prepared by award-winning chefs! With the poke bowl craze taking over southern California by storm, I was super excited to expand my knowledge about how poke is actually crafted. There are so many other ways to eat and enjoy raw fish, poke style. The event took place in Irvine Hotel’s backyard. It was such a fun place to chill, play lawn games and enjoy all the food samples. The venue even looked like Hawaii, with lush tropical plants and palm trees around the perimeter. Each ticket cost $75, which included unlimited tastes from over 20 vendors.
Throughout the day, there was live music, performances and poke demonstrations on the center stage. There was also a panel of judges that got to decide which chef took home the title of Best Poke!
Foodland vendors filled the outdoor section, so we decided to try some dishes out before getting poke inside. Our first stop was the Pocky booth! We got to sample different and unique flavors of Pocky, I liked the corn flavored one a lot surprisingly. L&L Irvine had mini saimin bowls, my favorite comfort food.
Next we entered the Pokeland section, there were tables and tables of poke samples, it felt like foodie heaven. Each vendor had a unique take on their poke, no two dishes were the same. Each table we visited was a new experience in presentation and taste. Each explosion of flavor represented their restaurants well, props to all the amazing chef's for all their hard work! We stopped by Zarlitos from San Diego, their spicy garlic poke was my absolute fave!
Next we caught Sushi Studio Arts arranging their samples on skateboard decks! Loved their presentation and their ahi tuna poke was so delicious. Next we had Poke OG and their refreshing watermelon and poke with cucumber.
ILNLYF Foods served their poke in mini coconut shells. They definitely brought island flavor to OC!
Here are more shots from all the other vendors, notice how fresh and vibrant the dishes look!
To top off all the poke, we indulged in pineapple flavored cotton candy and Rainbow Shave Ice with condensed milk drizzle from Hula Girls! The perfect way to end the day.
Overall, I loved everything about this festival, the ambiance, the music, the food and especially the people. Everybody lived and breathed poke and the Hawaiian lifestyle. I had such an amazing time, I’ll definitely be visiting some of the shops when the festival is over for a full bowl of poke. Till next year!
Hotel Irvine | Poke Party | Da Hawaiian Poke Co. | Ahi Assassins | North Shore Poke Co. | Poke OG | 370 Common | ILNLYF Foods | Sushi Studio Arts | Good Choice Sushi | Roy’s Newport
Hula Girls Shave Ice | Supernatural Sandwiches | Joonya’s Laulau | East Los Musubi | Pocky | The Lanai | Spun Paradise | L&L Irvine | Samurai Soft Serve | Dough Dough’s Malasadas |King’s Hawaiian | Hawaiian Sun