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Poke Bowls: the “Chipotle of Sushi”

By Ezra Graves

The Poke Bowl on Ocean Ave’s eponymous dish. Photo by Ezra Graves

Most of you have probably had some exposure to the recent food trends: poke bowls.

They’re rice bowls with raw fish and various toppings, ordered to taste. I asked 10th grade English teacher, Patrick Sullivan, what he thought about the trend, and he told me about how poke was in his childhood. “I love poke. I grew up in a community of Hawaiians,” he said. “I thought that people were acting like it was something new [with the recent trend.] My wife started to bring home poke bowls. It’s so much more complex.” And he describes its condition now as “the Chipotle of sushi.”

These places are everywhere. There are two within the same two blocks of each other near my house. There are so many poke places that only the genre of food can be called popular, and no one place seems more popular or better than the next.

Upon actually going to get some, I can agree with the “Chipotle of sushi” synopsis. The only difference in the ordering process of a typical Poke Bowl joint, is that you need to fill out a form with your preferences and toppings. Then, whoever is serving you, fills a bowl with rice and fish, and puts your toppings on from containers very reminiscent of those at a Chipotle or Subway. There are MANY options, but I got a small bowl with spicy tuna (raw), avocado, white rice, and jalapenos.  The major difference is the price. For a small bowl and a drink, it’s about $14.

So, is the hype true, is the poke bowl worth it? In my opinion, nearly. At the Poke Bowl location I tried, The Poke Bowl on Ocean Avenue in SF. The food was good, but not enough for the money, and I would say tasted similar to inexpensive sushi. They did have larger sizes, but for more money. If you can afford it though, it’s fast and easy, and much healthier than pretty much any other fast food. If you’re both concerned about time, and are watching your diet, this is probably the way to go. But if you’re looking for something a little fancier, you’ll probably want actual sushi, which is much more worth it in my opinion. And if you’re on a budget, the rest of the fast food world may serve you better.

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