By Megan G. Razzetti
Poke Salad Bar, located in the heart of Old Town Pasadena, offers a fresh build-your-own take on a traditional Hawaiian dish.
Poke is usually a type of raw salad served with a portion of raw ahi tuna mixed with soy sauce, sesame seed oil and other spices that compliment the fish. It is sometimes served with seaweed and other fish like raw salmon or cured octopus.
At Poke Salad Bar, the customer has options to create his or her own version of poke starting with a base of white or brown rice, a leafy salad, half rice with salad or even soy paper that creates a unique approach to the traditional lunchtime wrap.
The size of the bowls vary from small, medium and large. A small bowl ($8.99) consists of two scoops of poke, a medium ($10.50) has three and a large ($11.99) has four. Now raw fish does not sound like a fulfilling lunch or dinner, however, a large serving is more than enough for two people.
Once a size and base is selected, toppings are chosen. The toppings consist of crabmeat, cucumbers, onions, seaweed, pineapples, sweet corn or ask for everything.
Step three is choosing the nemo or raw fish. The choices range from ahi tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, scallop, albacore, octopus and shrimp. After the fish is selected, it is scooped onto the rest of the dish and then sauce is chosen. The sauces include chipotle mayo, yuzu ponzu, sesame shoyu and wasabi mayo.
The final station includes add ons such as Masago which is fish roe (eggs), green onions, edamame, ginger, crunchy garlic or sesame seed.
The employees are very efficient. They don’t keep the line waiting or very long and they help customers customize their bowls.
The bowl consists of fresh products and does not have excess calories. It is a excellent option for healthy eating.
A medium bowl, which consisted of scallop, salmon and spicy tuna was filled with delicate flavors. The spicy tuna was not excruciatingly spicy to the point of no flavor. It was subtle and perfect for those who can not tolerate spicy foods. The scallops were extremely fresh and well cleaned. The shellfish was mixed in a light sauce that resembled mayonnaise and blended well with the green salad they were served on.
The best combination is cucumber, sweet corn, Masago , green onion, salmon and wasabi mayo mixed together and served over rice. The wasabi mayo has a kick to it, but the sauce is very light and the flavor compliments the salmon nicely. It also goes very well with the salad like a dressing.
Each order is different, which is great for those who wish to sample a little of everything.
The overall setting of the small restaurant is modern and very clean. Along the wall of the main eating area, are a selection of popular photos that include the logo and Poke Salad Bar incorporated into the picture. The space is very tight and there aren’t too many places to sit, especially during a rush lunch hour.
There is parking available less than a block away which is free for the first 90 minutes, or take the Goldline to the Del Mar or Memorial Park station, which is a short walk away from the restaurant.
Poke Salad Bar is open everyday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at 12 West Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.