Poké is big news. It’s the trendiest, healthiest new food item to hit the Bay Area. I met Chris Lim, founder of Poké Bar, this week. Poké Bar is inside the front door of Ava’s Downtown Market on Castro Street in Mountain View. Poké is a traditional raw fish salad served in Hawaii. It’s an appetizer of chopped fresh fish, mixed with asian spices, herbs and seaweed. Until recently, it was difficult to find poke in the Bay Area. Yes, it was pretty easy to find in southern California, but it hadn’t really found it’s way to the bay. That’s changed now. Chris (and his 2 partners) have 4 Poké Bar restaurants in Los Angeles and another 2 are in the process of opening in San Francisco. One of them will be in the Twitter building. The Mountain View restaurant attracts lots of tech workers in the downtown area. Most of them grab it to go and head back to their office, but there are tables inside Ava’s Downtown Market, as well as outside along the sidewalk. They do a booming business at lunch and almost as big of a dinner crowd. It’s possible that you’ll have to stand in line for a few minutes, but once you get your turn at the window, his friendly staff makes your meal right in front of you in about 3 minutes. They made suggestions to me about what to add to mine, since I wasn’t familiar with all the ingredients. I had traditional white rice, although most people get brown. I got both fresh tuna and salmon, a combo of the house dressing and ponzo dressing, some spicy mayo sauce, plenty of ogo (Hawaiian seaweed), fresh veggies and chunks of mango and a bowl of miso soup. It was fast, delicious and healthy. I’ll definitely be back for more. Chris told me that about half of his customers have had poke before, either while on vacation in Hawaii, or in Los Angeles, and the other half are unfamiliar with it but have heard good things from their colleagues. He also said that he’s had lots of repeat business and once one person in the office discovers Poké Bar, the entire office ends up coming the next day. He feels grateful that our community loves his food so much and he’s off to a very successful start. The tuna is all wild caught and the salmon is either from Norway or Canada, depending on what is freshest. He has 4 different fish vendors and buys in small quantities to guarantee that his customers get the freshest possible fish. His staff prepares each item in very small quantities so the quality is the best possible.
As you peruse Castro Street looking for your next exciting lunch destination, stop by Poké Bar. I guarantee that it’s going to be a regular favorite. And Ava’s Downtown Market is a great local, family owned market. It’s so convenient to grab some groceries downtown and you get your lunch at the same time. I love downtown Mountain View.