Monday, July 25, 2016

Poke, Man. Go.

It never fails.

I don't get to California very often. In my 46-plus years, I might've made a dozen trips there. And every single time, I'm struck by how very different it is from the East Coast of my familiar haunting. Visually, ethnically, culturally, politically, and on and on. One small yet telling case in point:

I'm in Long Beach this week for a conference (did you know it's the nation's 36th largest city, bigger than St. Louis?). Downtown Long Beach is a cool mix of locally owned restaurants, bars, waterfront, and hotels and convention facilities (also, homeless people, surf bums, and loons). Many of the cross streets have walk/don't walk signals. As is the custom amongst East Coasters, I approach those don't walk signals, look both ways, and if there's no traffic coming, cross at my own risk. On multiple occasions while here, I've walked past locals waiting patiently for the light to change. And on more than one occasion, people have politely offered their concerns to me about the risk I'm taking.

Thank you, sweet and patient Californians, for your concern. I'm sorry I'm an East Coast asshole.

I also thank you for your culinary adventuring, and in particular, for introducing me to a whole new way to stuff my face.

Immediately adjacent to my (probably racist) hotel there's a Poke Bar. That's not, recent frenzied online activity aside, some sort of meeting place for Pikachu hunters. Rather, it's the most perfect evolution of the Subway, Chipotle, Potbelly mass customization concept.

Just like those fast casual concepts, you choose your base, your protein, and your fixings, but in the case of Poke Bar, your protein is raw fish - tuna, salmon, octopus, scallops, and so on. And the fixings are seaweed salad, jalapeno, pineapple, cucumber, kale, green onions, cilantro et al. Poke is a traditional Hawaiian mix, and it's perfect for this concept. It's fucking delicious, and I'll choose to believe that it's really good for me, too.

I've never had any interest in opening a franchise, but I'm seriously considering making a call to the owners of Poke Bar, who have twenty or so California-based locations today, and begging them to let me open some on the East Coast. That'll happen eventually, and it will kill. Hit me up in the comments if you want in.

And if you find yourself out West, get your poke on.


zman said...

I'm in so long as you do the heavy lifting. Like with this blog.

Whitney said...

The former missus once got a jaywalking citation in SoCal. Bizarre.

Danimal said...

Suddently red blue lights
Flash us from behind
Loud voice
all will please step out onto the line

Pele breathes words of comofort
Seena just hides her eyes
Policeman taps his shades
Is that a Chevy 69?

How bizarre
How bizarre
How bizarre

Dave said...

that looks delicious, and i jaywalk with my children all the time.

Mark said...

Poke has become a bit of a thing in my area of Florida. The local specialty market sells it, there's a food truck that specializes in it and even better (for me at least) is that my wife makes it pretty frequently. I prefer tuna as my protein and usually include avocado and rice as my other main ingredients. It's easy to make. If you can marinate tuna and cook rice, you're in pretty good shape.

zman said...

I've been a huge fan of poke for years, particularly poken' whiskers.

Danimal said...

have seen the Poke(y) Bar's there in Cali but never ventured into one. We've got a Salt Life restaurant down the road here from work. They have a Poke bowl - with tuna - on the menu. It's very good if not a little overpriced at roughly $14.00. I like to stay under $10.00 for lunch if possible.

It has been a while since our last real family vacation. That changes next week with a trip to Hilton Head with a couple of other families from NC. Deep sea fishing, gawlf, loads of beach time, and copious amounts of booze are in store.

mayhugh said...

There are a couple places local to me that try to do poke but don't really succeed. The secret is the thickness of the cut. If you cube/dice it too thin it turns into cat food.

Clarence said...

If you find yourself on the Virginia Peninsula, go over to what was Fort Monroe to A joint called the Deadrise and get the tip-top Pearl City Poke Salad, a Vienna Lager, and a cool view. The tuna it is so good that I have run it back and doubled up on more than one visit.

zman said...

I too have doubled up on a good piece of tuna before. Most often when I was younger.

Danimal said...

Looks like Hilary ' s got a tough few days ahead of her. Poor gal.

TR said...

Danimal - on what part of the island are you staying?

A couple recommendations: Lowcountry Backyard is a great, southern eatery (but probably not if you have a huge party). If you can offload the sitters, eat and drink there. And take the whole crew to Shelter Cove Harbour early one evening to see Shannon Tanner's free music show. You can park them in front of the stage, and then order cocktails from the nearby outdoor bars.

We are headed to Sea Pines in late August. Went to Palmetto Dunes the last two years.

Danimal said...

That's a good question TR. One of the wives in the group booked it with our input. With 3 families in the house we had to base decision more on the house itself than location. I will check out tomorrow. Thanks for the recs though, especially the music venue.

Danimal said...

Gary Johnson can win right?

rob said...

america sure ain't