By Sara Newberry
Poke, for me, is the perfect middle of the road option for when I’m in the mood for sushi, but either don’t have the time to sit down in a sushi restaurant, or don’t want to spend $30-$50 on a sushi meal.
I predicted about two years ago that poke would be one of the next big food trends in Dallas. And I was right! It seemed like, for a while, there was a new poke place opening every month, then all of a sudden it seemed like there was a poke place closing every month (RIP to the most recent casualties, Mamasan and Bowls & Tacos). But, never fear, there are still quite a few poke options available. I recently visited some of them in an effort to find my favorite poke place.
My poke journey, ironically, began at a sushi restaurant. Not feeling rolls or a bento box, I went for a spicy tuna poke bowl. Tuna is the original poke fish, and it’s my favorite choice of protein in a poke bowl. This one is a little more upscale as far as presentation; most poke places tend to stick to plastic serve ware, even for orders that are staying in, but SaSa uses actual dishware. The “mixed veggies” promised on the dish’s description were lettuce and daikon, but the fish was fresh and sweet, and the spicy ponzu was magical. An Ahi Tuna Tower is not technically poke, but it is an option that I found at more than one place. I loved the Tower at SaSa — the sauces were all excellent on their own, but even better mixed together.
Located in the former ZuZu’s space, Poke Bop opened a little over a year ago. It’s the second location of the tiny chain (the first one is on Lemmon Avenue), and it’s one of a multitude of poke spots located along Mockingbird Lane. I tried a couple of different bowls: the Poke Bop Classic is a very minimal bowl with tuna, seaweed, cucumber and daikon sprouts. It’s simple but satisfying. A Satoshi Spicy Tuna bowl adds spicy aioli to the mix. It had a little bit of a kick but wasn’t crazy hot. But what drew me to Poke Bop was the “poke-ritto,” which sounds like a poke burrito.
There are a couple of traditional options, like the Big Kahuna, and a couple of more unusual choices, like the Firecracker, which includes Hot Cheetos as an ingredient. What it actually is, is basically a giant sushi roll, with nori acting as the wrap. If you don’t love nori, this is not a good choice for you. I don’t love nori.
I ended up unwrapping it and pouring the fillings out into a bowl. The poke-rittos are available as bowls, and that’s how I’ll order it in the future.
Go Fish is another small local chain, with locations on Knox and Luther Lane in Dallas, as well as in Plano and Irving. I returned to my favorite, the Ahi Tuna Tower, at Go Fish on Knox.
It was really an illustration of how the same basic ingredients, treated a little differently, can result in a less satisfying dish. While it was fine as far as quality — the fish was fresh and the portion was very generous — the flavors just fell a little flat. Where SaSa’s was a lovely mix of flavors that combined in harmony, this one just felt like a bunch of ingredients in a bowl.
Poke Sushi Roll
Also located on the Mockingbird poke corridor, Poke Sushi Roll’s name is kind of misleading. Yes, they have poke. But probably 80 percent of the menu is dedicated to sushi rolls.
I tried Charlie’s Bowl, a mix of tuna and salmon, topped with the standard ingredients: masago, avocado, dried seaweed, sesame seeds, ponzu sauce. But they also add edamame, seaweed salad and tomato to the mix for even more texture and flavor interest.
They offer a poke wrap, too, but it’s wrapped in soybean paper rather than nori, which I think might be less overpowering, flavorwise.
6340 Gaston Ave.
4140 Abrams Rd.
Go Fish Poke
3001 Knox St. #108
Poke Sushi Roll
5706 E. Mockingbird Ln. #110