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Houston Will Have Its First Ever Poke Showdown on June 11

Moku Bar's Mady Bowl.
Moku Bar's Mady Bowl. Photo by Troy Fields
click to enlarge Moku Bar's Mady Bowl. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Moku Bar's Mady Bowl.
Photo by Troy Fields
It was only a matter of time. And ahi. Yes, the first ever poke competition, the Poké Showdown, is heading to Houston on Sunday, June 11, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Bar Bleu, 2506 Robinhood, in Rice Village.

With more than a dozen poke eateries having freshly opened or opening in 2017, this seems ever appropriate for those still asking the question what is poke again? Poke, simply put, is a raw fish salad of Hawaiian origin, but now more commonly associated with its non-authentic American variation, the poke bowl. The local poke scene is known for salmon bowls topped with everything from spicy mayo and Flamin' Hot Cheetos crumbs to truffle yellowtail specialties and hamachi and apple bowls.

Still, for poke enthusiasts, it's pretty delicious, and restaurants at the poke showdown will be creating never-before-seen dishes for one night only. Contestants will include newcomers, longstanding establishments and even food trucks.

Judges for the event include Houston Press contributor and chef Cuc Lam and restaurateur Thomas Nguyen of Peli Peli, along with television personality Lily Jang and sushi chef Leon Pham.

And the potential for at least one human to show up in a shirt printed with "I'll shoyu" on it (probably me).

The following contestants have already signed on, and more are expected to join as well.
  • Moku Bar
  • Wokker Texas Ranger
  • RA Sushi
  • Flip N’ Patties
  • Nippon Sushi
  • The Fish Houston
  • People’s Poké
  • Cabo’s Coastal Kitchen
  • Mochi Sushi
  • Team Esno Pop-Up
Find more information on Facebook, and tickets, $30 to $40, include two free drinks and can be pre-ordered right here.

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.