The poke food trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down in 2019, with one of Vancouver’s most popular chains opening two new locations in the last 2 months. And today I was invited down to the Robson Street location to check out their new presence on the corner of Robson and Denman. Many other restaurants have held this space with varying degrees of success.
A piece of prime real estate with a challenging interior space. The small footprint is best served as a fast food stop. Its awkward seating area, on the narrow upper floor is best served as a pop in. You eat in to fill and go back out on your way soon after. Ideal as a snack mid shopping excursion, or as a quick serving in between meals after work.
When it comes to ordering, you can customize your bowl to how you like it with your choice of base, seafood and vegetable, then toppings. For base you can go the traditional route with white sushi rice, or a healthier brown rice and quinoa, or perhaps go carb free with a mixed kale salad or plain tofu instead.
For proteins they have bay scallops, negitoro, sockeye salmon, spicy salmon, a crab and shrimp blend, ahi tuna, or spicy tuna to choose from.
For toppings they have ginger jicama, masago, avocado nori, spicy seaweed, freshly mashed wasabi peas, organic seaweed salad, red beets and basil, boy choy gomae, pickled red onion, and cucumber kimchi.
For sauces you have a choice of citrus mayo, spicy mayo, sesame mayo, wasabi mayo, red curry mayo, and a ludicrously hot hot sauce.
And to finish off your bowl you can add some crunch to your serving with crushed nuts, crushed noodles, or toasted sesame seeds. Or even all three.
But truthfully with all these options I tend to get overwhelmed. How and where do you start? They offer so many more choices and unique topping choices than at other poke places. Therefore, I much rather stick with one of their already curated and proven successful chef inspired bowls, as I did today.
We had their “main” bowl with sockeye salmon, spicy ahi, crab, shrimp, ginger jicama, avocado nori, organic seaweed salad, citrus mayo, sesame miso dressing, shoyu, yuzu and lime juice, all topped with herbs and sprouts. And all their seafood is Ocean Wise, giving you comfort in its quality. This bowl would be the one I would go for if I wasn’t blogging and just wanted something tasty. It has majority of their available proteins in generous amounts, lots of harmonious flavour and I love seaweed salad. My guest liked the creaminess to this, but wished that the avocado was left cut into pieces, instead of being whipped into a guacamole spread; this is where things became too dense. She enjoyed the freshness of the salmon the most, and appreciated how much she got of it. There was a good ratio between protein, topping, and her chosen brown rice.
For our second bowl, I liked the idea of them offering a seasonal poke so wanted to try that. This is an option that rotates with new and fresh ingredients often, a reason to have faithful customers return for something new to sink their teeth into. This season it was the “Bangkok Bowl” with coconut marinated ahi tuna and bay scallops with bok choy gomae and kimchi cucumbers, dressed in a red curry aioli. This would be my first time having scallops in a poke bowl. I liked how it and each element was seasoned with its own flavour, and together they created something new. Although, I do suggest picking through each ingredient, and crafting your desired spoonful. This way it keeps each mouthful different and all your bites interesting. Whereas, mixing it all together leaves you with a one toned bowl, that you grow bored of eating mid way. This serving was salty and spicy at the forefront, with so much punchy flavours to oppose one another. Luckily they have the perfect drinks to pair with your bowls, thus giving you a break in between bites.
I love anything with pandan so had to try their “Coconut panda” drink. Although I didn’t taste any of it, it was more the coconut milk and young coconut juice that flavoured this creamy beverage.
The “Yuzu lemonade” however was more true in its name. A strong citrus flavour with the familiar sour tang of lemonade. Once again, both a great palette cleanser to help cut into the bold flavours of their poke.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great option for poke, and with so many locations you can pick your closest, be it this new one on Robson. Fresh food with prices on par with what you expect to pay. Don’t deny your cravings.
1795 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C9