My First Vegetarian Poké Bowl Experience
As someone who lives, breathes and dreams about food 100 % of the time, when it comes to being the first to sign up for restaurant, cafe and food subscription box reviews, you can guarantee that I am there, at the front of the queue. From being nicknamed the ‘human hoover’ who can fashion an entire meal out of somebody else’s scraps, to creating shrines to food in my dreams, when it comes to ‘vegetarian cuisine’ it seems like I am a dab hand. I was always told off for being such a greedy little pig when I was younger so it almost seems ironic that I am getting rewarded for my ‘greedy ways’, but then again I’m not complaining. You see I’m that embarrassing girl on a ‘first date’ who can’t get through her meal without dropping food or licking her bowl and don’t even get me started on looking at my dates meal plaintively, hoping that they will get the hint and so generously offer me their scraps. It’s probably why I don’t get past the second date club very often, because their scared of where the food might disappear to if they even dare to take a ‘toilet break’. But anyone with an imagination or common sense can guess that the only place the food would have disappeared to is my belly…
What Is An Ahi Poke Bowl?
From Indian To Thai, right through giant slabs of pizza, my ‘food library’ is what I would call the very definition of ‘food porn’. But even as a vegetarian that does not mean that I am very healthy and after a Travel Event in Leicester Square the night before with copious amounts of wine, mojitos and prosecco, I needed a detox and I needed it fast. Queue Ahi Poké , a Poké specialist who offers customized Poké Bowls that are tailored to your preferences. But what on earth is Poké I hear you ask? Despite my friend G mistaking it for a ‘sex toy’, an ‘original Poké Bowl’ is made up of raw Ahi tuna or cured octopus, roughly cut into bite-sized cubes and inspired by East Asian and Japanese cuisine. Originating in Hawaii after fishermen would season the ‘scraps’ or ‘cut offs’ from their ‘catch’ to serve as a fishy snack, the present form of Poke became popular in the 1970’s according to food historian Rachel Laudan. However it wasn’t until 2012 that Poke became popular in mainland United States like Houston and by 2014-2016 countries outside of the US were serving up variations like Vegetarian Poké Bowls too.
The Build Your Own ‘Vegetarian Poké Bowl
Now seeing as I yadder on about being a vegetarian all the time, you’re probably confused as to how I can have an ‘Ahi Poke’ bowl if all the main ingredients contain variations of fish. Which is where Ahi Poké in Fitzrovia, London steps in; although they do have a range of signature bowls- one of which is a vegetarian choice- you do luckily have the choice to build your own bowl, which includes fresh fruit and vegetables, sustainably sourced fish, toppings like avocado and spicy sauces like Sriracha Mayo. While I chose to build a Vegetarian Poké Bowl, my companion had a build your own shrimp bowl, which she exclaimed was ‘delicious’. To start with I chose my base, which used egg noodles, kale and brown rice before moving on to the ‘fish and veggie’ component of the bowl where I chose the ‘premium avocado’ and tomato option, which was sprinkled with cashew nuts. When asked what ‘sauce’ I would like, I had an option to choose between salty, sweet and spicy options and I decided to combine Sriracha Mayo with Black Chili to create a spicy, yet tart sauce for the Vegetarian Poké Bowl. For toppings I was truly spoiled for choice and chose Edamame, Radish, Coconut Sweet Potato, Confit Ginger, Pineapple, Carrot and Kimchee Cucumber, which was glazed in a dark liquid combination of mayo and black chili.
The Vegetarian Poké Bowl was laced with intense flavour; the black chili had notes of balsamic vinegar intertwined with a subtle hint of spice, while the sriracha mayo was made from a paste of chili peppers, with an underlying taste of distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and with a small touch of salt. The two sauces together had elements of ‘sweet spice’ and generously coated the fresh sliced avocado and tomato wonderfully. While the toppings like pineapple and coconut sweet potato created a stark contrast to the merging of the two sauces, the Vegetarian Poké Bowl was stopped from being too ‘sweet and saccharine’ with the saltiness of the kimchee cucumber, offset by the fresh grated and sliced carrot peel. But it was the confit ginger, which had been slowly cooked in sugar water and rolled in coarse sugar to preserve it, that stole the show. Sweet yet crisp, the taste of the confit ginger was almost pickled which added a much needed saltiness to the dish.
The Build Your Own Shrimp Bowl
G chose the ‘build your own shrimp bowl’ option and praised the freshness of the shrimp, which had been ethically and freshly sourced. G’s base was made from ‘brown rice’, which she chose too drizzle with a sweet tart Sesame Shoyu sauce, as she prefers mild sauce, as opposed to me who is the type of girl to ask for more ‘spice’ because i’m a chili kind of girl. For toppings G chose to pair her fresh shrimp with carrot, kimchee cucumber, avocado, cashew nuts and coconut sweet potato. She thought that the avocado was fresh and ripe, and stated that it melded well with the fresh shrimp. Overall she found the shrimp bowl to be equisite but did mention that she would have chosen a different sauce next time as she found the Sesame Shoyu to be a bit dry and did not have as much flavour as the other sauces. Nevertheless G adored the shrimp and was even happier to know that Ahi Poke works closely with their purveyors to ensure they are providing the freshest local vegetables & fruits, alongside maintaining that their fish is responsibly-sourced & sustainably caught.
The Deserts & Drinks
As a desert I chose a chia and pineapple desiccated coconut pudding, with an elderflower presse sparkling drink to quench my thirst, while G who makes homemade ‘date energy balls’ decided to opt for the coconut date balls, to see if they measured up to her taste. The fresh chunks of pineapple were juicy and succulent, while the chia and coconut added some texture to the pudding. Despite my love/hate relationship with ‘chia’ I found that in the context of the pineapple pudding it worked well and added a tartness to the sweet pudding, that was as creamy as it was sweet. G’s ‘coconut date energy balls’ were full of flavour too and was complimented beautifully by her Vita Coconut water.
Having my first Vegetarian Poké Bowl Experience was hugely satisfying and the fact that the staff have regular consultations with purveyors to make sure that their ingredients are fresh, ethical and sustainably sourced was like music to my ears. The interior was bright and welcoming and while the store was small, I loved Ahi Poke’s intimate touches like fresh flower pots and warm natural lighting, which made us feel comfortable and secure. The staff were friendly and eager to help, if we had any questions about the ingredients and interacted naturally with the rest of the customers too. The food was true to Ahi Poke’s mantra and was fresh to the palette, while the selection of drinks and puddings were small but meant the focus was not detracted from the wonderful Ahi Poke Bowl selections.
Have You Ever Tried Ahi Poke Before?
Please note I was a guest at Ahi Poke and provided with two complimentary meals but all thoughts and opinions are my own.