Happy 2019/2020 school year and another year of Scribbling! I’m excited to be back and posting on my blog again!
I’ve noticed a new niche of restaurants cropping up in the DMV lately, and they all are about Poké! Poké, which means “to slice” in Hawaiian and is now part of the customizable fast and casual trend (like Chipotle or Cava) but involving raw fish and a modern take on Native Hawaiian cuisine. I like to think of them as sort of a deconstructed sushi and, considering the balance of protein and vegetables, a pretty healthy meal.
I love Poké because it is customizable, and it’s still new to me, and I’m bored of it after trying out all of these different places. I have been slowly making my rounds, so without further ado, here are my reviews of the best Poké places I’ve been (in no particular order);
1. Honeyfish Poké
photo courtesy of Ava Bubbosh
This was one of the first Poké places I ever saw-- I noticed its sign before it opened when I was visiting Noodles and Company in Rockville. During preseason in August, I tried out this place instead of my usual Noodles & Co. I was comfortable with some of the toppings but didn’t immediately take a liking to green onions, cilantro, tuna, furikake and seaweed salad (a common theme at these restaurants) among other things. However, I saw that I did not have a lot of toppings in my bowl, so I ventured beyond my carrots and brown rice comfort zone and tried some new ingredients, which I ended up liking and continuing to order. The employees did a great job explaining everything to my dad and me, because we were unfamiliar with how to construct our bowls. Although my meal was huge (see portion size above), overall I enjoyed my experience and developed a high standard of a Poké bowl.
2. Poki DC
photo courtesy of Ava Bubbosh
Poki DC is my favorite on this list because it has a wide variety of bubble teas and mochi in addition to poké. The restaurant not only has all of the standard toppings but also has toppings like chicken for people who are not as comfortable with new ingredients. They also let you pick more than one base if you want to, like half zucchini noodles and half sushi rice. Also, it is on UberEats, a huge plus. I ate a Poki DC recently with a group of friends, and we were all satisfied with the high quality of food and their ability to get our order specifications correct.
3. Poke Dojo
photo courtesy of Poke Dojo
For a place sitting in the heart of Bethesda Row, I had high expectations because a store must be successful in order to stay afloat among all of the restaurants competing in that area. I went with my friend who had previously been there, and she said that they had not given her enough rice and fish the first time she had been there. Sure enough, I noticed a difference in portion size compared to the other places that I had previously been, and I was still hungry when I finished my food. You get less food for the same price as other places. If you are in the area and craving poké, it’s still a good meal, and they also have fun drinks and mochi you can try.
4. Poké Papa
photo courtesy of @pokepapabowls twitter
Poké Papa is situated conveniently to me in Montgomery Mall. It’s nice because the place is surrounded by lots of clothing stores, so I can shop and eat, which are two of my favorite activities. Originally the opening of the restaurant was scheduled for fall 2018, but it ended up opening in the fall of this year. This makes it the most recent one I have visited, and it was definitely worth the wait considering its good service and its ability to quickly move a big crowd through a line. It also has more meat options besides raw fish for more picky eaters. My friend Maya also commented on the freshness of the ingredients, and the salmon was significantly better than at Poké Dojo. Similarly to many of the other places, there are generous portions and a variety of proteins and toppings to choose from. Poké Papa is the only place I have been to that offers snack bowls if you aren’t hungry enough for a big meal. I went soon after its opening and when I was in line, I was encouraged by two employees to try the spicy mayo sriracha sauce to top off my meal. While it was good, I feel like they were trying to sell me on a sauce that was a more recognizable flavor, and it drowned out all of the other flavors in my bowl. Besides that, they have successfully gained loyal customers, and when I got back to the mall there was a line of people customizing their bowls. Poké Papa already has a selection of built bowls to choose from if you don’t want to make your own, and because it is a franchise, it’s professi
onal and popular.
photo courtesy of https://images.squarespace-cdn.com
I have never been to Pokeworks because I live far away from Virginia, and there are plenty of more conveniently located Poké places between my house and Pokeworks. However, if you are a VA girl or happen to find yourself in the area, I asked my friend Allison to provide her opinion on the place closest to her. She says that there was not as much variety as others because it does not have chicken or bubble teas that you could get at surrounding stores. However, the ingredients that were available were fresh and high quality. It had nutritional information like calories listed on the menu, and the location is easy to find with, as Maya noted, no line. There are many locations around the country, but the place is also on the pricier side. Something that I found really cool is that it has Poké burritos, which seem like a fun modern take on a classic dish. I am looking forward to trying one in the future!