Poke, which is pronounced poh-kay, is a staple of Hawaiian cuisine and recently, it has become a staple of everyone’s diet and Instagram feed in Montreal. Poke simply means chunk in Hawaiian and is a dish made up of a base, usually rice but sometimes noodles, with fresh, raw, marinated fish with veggies.
The key to a great poke bowl, aside from fresh ingredients, is texture which comes from various ingredients. Poke bowls are very customizable, with avocado and cilantro as common elements of a poke bowl, as well as raw salmon and tuna as the usual fish options.
Before we get to the famous poke bowls, we decided to try the Alohavocado. A very simple dish, half of an avocado is served with a drizzle of honey sour cream and masago arare. The masago added little bits of crunch to the creamy avocado which you just need to scoop out of its shell. The honey sour cream was cool and didn’t mask the avocado taste. It was good but nothing extraordinary for us.
The shrimp salad was a generous portion of shrimp, along with orange segments, red papaya, fennel, pickled shallots and more. This was all sitting on top of mâche salad and greens. We loved the combination of the plump shrimp with the refreshing orange segments and fennel – a great combination. There was a tiny bit of heat from the jalapeno but nothing to set your mouth on fire. We absolutely loved was the sesame cracker which added a touch of sweetness and lots of crunch.
The Mama California poke bowl was our favourite. Made with a base of rice, this poke bowl was topped with cubes of salmon, shredded crab, green papaya and a spicy mayo. The salmon was lightly dressed with the spicy mayo, which they affectionately call fuego mayo, and there was plenty of real crab meat, not the imitation kind. The matchstick green papaya added freshness and the tempura bits were like rice krispies adding pops of crunch to every bite.
You can’t have a mama without a papa and the Papa California has more heat, with volcano sauce and jalapenos. Made with cubes of bright, red tuna, this poke bowl had a few more ingredients including pickled cucumbers, green papaya, and crunch mix. We’re not sure what exactly made up the crunch mix but we enjoyed it. The volcano sauce had quite the kick and the papaya and cucumber kept it in check.
The last dish that we tried was the Hapa, made with salmon, herbs, cucumber, pickled kaki and papaya, fried onions, and roasted peanuts. There was a lot going on in this dish, with the Thai basil and roasted peanuts giving it an Asian flavour, and the herbs, including mint and cilantro, brightened things up. The lemongrass sauce wasn’t as prevalent as we expected even though lemongrass is a fairly strong flavour and the matchstick vegetables added freshness.
Our Rating: As Expected
Tagged: 1212 Avenue Union, 1446 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Avocado, H3B 3C4, H3G 1R3, Koa Lua, Koa Lua Montreal, Montreal Hawaiian, Montreal Poke Bowl, Poke Montreal, Salmon poke, shrimp salad, tuna poke