COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) seems to be the new in-thing in healthy (and hipster?) eating, but these colorful bowls of goodness have actually been around for a pretty long time.
FYI, poke is a Hawaiian staple with strong Japanese influences. Traditionally, poke consists of marinated cuts of seafood and meats served over rice, often soaked in vinegar.
Poke restaurants have popped up worldwide. Manila seems to be a bit late to the poke party, but hey, that’s better than never right?
Those who are curious about the poke craze can try it out at Poke Poke, with branches in Estancia Mall and SM Aura.
“If I could relate it to our world now: poke is the millennial thing and sushi is the traditional one”, says Poke Poke’s head Chef Kel Zaguirre. He’s also the guy behind Carnivale in S Maison and Locavore in Pasig.
“You have to have discipline for sushi, but with poke, you can go wild and blend it with anything. That’s poke for me,” he added.
Poke Poke has nine signature bowls ranging from PHP280 to PHP480.
The Basic bowl (PHP280) is as traditional as you can get. It has beautiful ahi-tuna and salmon cubes marinated in a mixture of sauces, the salty taste is most prominent. For your base, you can pick rice, brown rice, quinoa, or mixed greens.
You can also go for a Korean-inspired bowl called Gangnam (PHP320), with sweet and spicy flavors, or a Japanese-inspired called Unaju (PHP450), with the sumertime favorite unagi. For The Rich Only (PHP480) has all the works: steak cubes, soft boiled eggs, and bacon tied together by a subtle taste of white truffle oil.
To make poke bowls more friendly to Filipino taste, Poke Poke also offers cooked options. Before you shout blasphemy, consider how a typical Filipino family eats. There is a reason why kinilaw isn’t as popular as lechon or sisig or ube yet.
The owners are hoping that the cooked options would convince diners to be more open-minded, and eventually try the raw options next time — the cooked options are somehwat like gateway bowls.
Those who are looking for advenure can try the DIY bowls (PHP350). You can just mix and match the ingredients to create your own masterpiece.
Exciting as this may seem, it can be overwhelming for a first-timer. The whole process consists of seven steps, from choosing a base to adding a flavor booster.
Unless you know what you’re doing, we suggest going for their tried-and-tested bowls on your first trip. You can always go for a second or third visit to create your own bowl.
The only thing missing from the poke experience? The beach! A poke bowl is so light and refreshing that it almost feels like a sin to eat it inside a closed mall. Well, it’s always good to have a reminder of the island life when you’re stuck in the ever-bustling city.
Lower Ground Estancia Mall, Pasig; +63 9164735836, Facebook. Open Daily, 11am-10pm