Tony and I tried out a new spot down the hill from us, Mainland Poke Shop, last night and we are obsessed. We went to Hawaii on a practice honeymoon with my parents last year and fell in love with poke; it is the ideal meal for a meathead like Tony, as it is just chunks of fresh raw fish doused in delicious sauce, maybe mixed in with some avocado or green onions… It is light, healthy and addictive. And as I’m trying to wrap my belly around the fact that the wedding is in less than three months and I need to stop eating frosting daily, throwing some poke into the mix sounds like a healthy and wise choice. I need to fit in the dress I bought. And I am not doing another juice cleanse.
In Hawaii, you can buy it in the grocery store next to potato salad, it’s so common. But here in L.A., if you want a meal of raw fish, you have to be prepared to shell out some cold, hard cash for sashimi at a sushi restaurant. Which is why Tony and I were so thrilled to see that Mainland Poke was opening a few weeks ago just down the hill from us, in the super chic Third Street district. We finally got a chance to try it last night and it exceeded our wildest dreams.
It’s like the high-end Chipotle of poke goodness. The place runs on the same “design it yourself” model – choose your base (white rice, brown rice, kale or greens), your fish (ahi tuna, salmon, albacore or chef’s choice – last night it was octopus, which we passed on because they’re supposed to be as smart as dogs. But I digress), your sauce (tons of delicious options and they’ll let you try whatever you want) and toppings (which include avocado, which alone is enough for me). They also have “favorites,” pre-designed bowls, if the idea of assembling your own is too daunting.
I ordered a large poke bowl ($10.95) with a brown rice base, ahi tuna, shoyu sauce, avocado, seaweed salad, green onions and edamame. It was a super generous helping of tuna, and they gave me cups of wasabi cream and coconut sauce on the side. And I have not stopped talking about it since I ate it. I am full-on Bubba Gump’ing about this poke. IT WAS SO GOOD. Tony also got a large poke bowl with a baby greens base, a combo of ahi tuna and albacore, shoyu, coconut sauce, mango, sweet onions, seaweed salad, sriracha, pickled ginger and avocado. He liked it so much, he went back and got a second one.
The owner, Ari, happened to be there and came over to see how we were enjoying it. We talked his ear off about how much we were enjoying it, then went back to shoveling it into our faces. It felt very small-town and “neighborhoody,” which is so lovely in this giant, cutthroat city. Everyone who worked there was friendly and helpful, and it was cool to see the owner so invested in his shop. As we were leaving, I noticed him straightening all of the chairs out, making sure the place looked nice… I don’t even do that in my own home.
So, instead of doing another juice cleanse, I’m going on a poke cleanse. If you can’t get a hold of Tony or me via text, email, phone or carrier pigeon, check this place. I can pretty much guarantee we will be there. We’re going back for dinner tonight. Prob tomorrow, too. (I do not have diagnosed OCD, I just like what I like OK???)
Mainland Poke 8318 1/2 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA (323) 452-9904