Poke, according to some of the pundits out there, is “the trending food” in Houston right now. Sigh. While something trending can be a good thing if it gets folks to break out of their old habits and try something new, just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. However, if anyone is making good food, it will speak for itself with proof of concept being in the eating and so on. Thankfully in my Westchase ‘hood, there is a Poke place that’s been open a little over a month called North Shore Poke Co. that has been building an audience very well due to a great product. Full disclosure: it is part of a 4 location chain based out of Huntington Beach, California and is producing a dish that originated in Hawaii. But first a little background:
North Shore Poke Company is a family-run business entirely dedicated to creating mind-blowing good Hawaiian poke that opened in March 2012 in Huntington Beach, CA. Just one block shy of Main Street. It was while serving in the Coast Guard Chef Shawn Gole caught the Poke bug and wondered why even Hawaiian restaurants on the mainland were overlooking this tasty fish offering. Shawn teamed up with his father and pastry chef sister, Melissa Gole-Vasquez to bring a Poke fix to Orange County. Since then, four other locations have made landfall, with the first in Houston opening in February of 2017! But for the uninitiated, let’s talk about what Poke is first. Per Hawaii Magazine: The word poke (pronounced poh-keh) is Hawaiian, meaning “to slice or cut crosswise into pieces.” The basic poke mixture of cubed raw ahi (tuna), salty seaweed, and crunchy sweet onions. The poke first eaten by native Hawaiians was a simple mixture of raw fish, Hawaiian salt, seaweed and chopped kukui nuts (called inamona in Hawaiian). Post-colonial contact, that basic recipe got a bit more interesting with the introduction of onions and, sometimes, tomatoes to the mix. Go to most fish markets in Hawaii today and you’ll find a wide selection of poke—from tako (octopus) with ginger and garlic to tofu in shoyu with watercress and tomato. We’ve seen poke recipes with raw crab, cooked shrimp, clams, smoked salmon, pipi kaula (dried and smoked beef), even seared ribeye steak. There are now hundreds of poke recipes in Hawaii for every kind of taste. So, think of typical sushi ingredients, served more as a salad, in a bowl, on a base of steamed rice or greens such as cucumber. The Menu at North Shorefeatures what would be considered standard sushi ingredients for mixing in your Poke bowl.
We visited North Short Poke Co. over a couple of different days to try a few different items on their menu. We found the fish to be fresh, we found the food to be full of flavour and the staff to be friendly. In the photos on the left, you see two of their Latin Inspired Poke Dishes: the Waimea style Poke Nachos (Waimea Style Salmon Poke Over Tortilla Chips. Topped with House Hot Sauce & Furikake). This is a cool yet spicy crunchy sushi nacho treat! As my daughter Helena is a Fish Taco fan, she went for the Fish Tacos (Waimea style salmon poke, Sunset, or Pipeline Poke. Topped w/ Cabbage on Corn Tortilla). This Echos the trip to San Diego long ago where I first tried fish tacos, but with a different twist–a sushi style salmon hit with some spice. Grades: A and A+ respectively.
On one of the other visits, we hit up some different styles of poke bowls in the proper sense. The photos show clockwise from the top: A Pipeline Bowl with Avocado added (Mix of Ahi Tuna and Salmon, Sushi Nori seasoning, Pipeline sauce, Avocado, Mangoes over steamed Jasmine rice); Jason’s built it yourself bowl with Salmon, Soy Sauce, Sushi Nori seasoning, with steamed Jasmine rice; and a Waimeia Bowl (Salmon, Waimeia spicy mayo sauce, Nori Seasoning, Macadamia nuts, onions). The main commonality we found was good, cool fresh sushi grade fish, great seasoning and fresh steamed rice. The Waimea sauce is creamy yet spicy, full of umami. The Spicy soy in the Pipeline is like a robust brewed vineagar with a little heat. Everyone enjoyed what they ordered that is for sure! Grades: A+, A and A+ respectively.
I’ll be checking out a number of other new and established Houston area Poke joints over the next several weeks. North Shore being in my local neighborhood and having a great product has already set a good precedent. As my pal Jack Long has said “It is good to live in Houston if you love to eat a diverse batch of food!”
North Shore Poke Co. is located in Westchase at:
11195 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77042
Open 7 Days a week
Eat Happy, Y’all!!!吃得开心!!!
Ai, Pōmaikaʻi, o oukou a pau!!!Hank
A First Look at North Shore Poke Co. in Westchase This was reposted for my personal reading use