Dice the roll
As with sushi and ceviche, in recent years, Hawaiian poke salad has become popular with American foodies. Pronounced “pohk-eh,” it means “to slice or cut.” The dish originated as a quick fisherman’s snack of trimmings from the day’s catch and became a favorite treat on island menus in the ’70s. Versions of the dish started showing up on the mainland just a few years ago, with Reno restaurants adding a dish or two. However, the true mix and match custom poke bowl just made the local scene this spring with the opening of Poke King.
The strip mall location is small, but the sparse indoor seating is supplemented with a fair number of patio tables. The format is pretty straightforward and the service is efficient and friendly. First, you choose either three or five scoops of protein ($10.95 and $13.95, respectively). Tofu bowls are $8.95.
Proteins include octopus, salmon, scallop, shrimp, tuna, yellowtail and tofu. These are placed on a bed of white or brown rice, mixed greens, wonton chips or a mix of the diner’s choosing.
Sauce it up with sesame shoyu, spicy mayo, truffle ponzu or creamy miso. Finally, top it with any combination of sweet onion, scallion, masago, tobiko, jalapeno, cucumber, edamame, seaweed salad, crab salad, wasabi, pickled ginger, sesame seed, fried garlic, fried shallot or furikake. Diced avocado is $1 extra.
My friend and I went with three-scoop bowls, and at first glance they seemed a bit small. Looks can definitely be deceiving, because neither of us left hungry. I’d say the bowls were roughly equivalent to ordering a pair of sushi long rolls. Perhaps my only complaint would be that the food just barely fit in the bowl. I’d like to have more room to mix everything up a bit.
Wanting some leafy goodness, I asked for mixed greens, salmon, tuna and shrimp, tossed in spicy mayo and topped with maguro—tiny fish roe—onion, ginger, shallot, seaweed salad, sesame seeds and furikake—a Japanese seasoning blend of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt and sometimes MSG. The texture and freshness of the seafood were very good, with cooked shrimp diced the same as the fish. The mix of greens was very nice, and the seaweed added some tartness and crunch. The spicy mayo made for a perfect salad dressing.
My friend’s bowl of octopus, scallop and yellowtail—tossed in creamy miso on white rice—was topped with wonton chips, crab salad, scallion, sweet onion, cucumber, fried garlic and avocado. Again, the fish was perfect, with the octopus a delicious standout. The sauce was nice and savory, rounding out the satisfying, filling bowl of enjoyable flavor and texture. The avocado was ripe, and the crab salad was finely shredded, akin to that used to top sushi rolls. It didn’t have a ton of flavor on its own but was a nice complement to the bowl. The rice came straight from the cooker, so it was still a bit warm—a comforting touch against the refrigerated ingredients.
I really appreciate a menu that is simple and straightforward yet allows for any number of combinations to be assembled. I’d like to taste the other sauces and mix up the seafood combinations, and with such great service and quality ingredients, I doubt it’ll be long before I work my way through a few more bowls of poke.