Sherman's Food Adventures: Hula Poke (Yaletown)

Hula Poke (Yaletown)

With all of the Poke options these days, it is hard to differentiate between them.  Let's be honest here, most of them are not "authentic poke" anyways.  However, I'm not poke snob and am always open to interesting takes on how it is prepared.  One of the more creative spots is Hula Poke, with its many locations in town.  They offer up not only international flavours and ingredients, there are also hot options that are not necessarily poke at all.

One of which is Grilled Salmon Bowl atop coconut rice base, edamame, carrot, green onion, red peppers, sesame seeds and microgreens.  We got this in garlic sesame rather than the spicy miso option.  Due to the glaze, the salmon itself already had a sweet caramelized flavour.  It was fairly moist and flaky.  The coconut rice paired well with the salmon to create a tropical taste.  Add in all of the veggies on top, this felt like a complete meal that was healthy.

Even before we got to the fish, we had the Warm Chicken Bowl with grilled chicken, rice base, edamame, carrot, green onion, red peppers, sesame seeds and microgreens in spicy miso.  The fact it was warm rather than piping hot was key as the cold ingredients didn't start wilting.  The fresh crunch combined with the tender chicken provided a contrast in textures and temperature.  Also, the spicy miso provided the kick of flavour to an otherwise collection of mild ingredients.

Onto the poke, but with sweet potato rather than a protein, we added it to the Bahamian with coconut rice.  Believe it or not, I really enjoyed this despite the absence of fish or meat.  Exhibiting robustness, the sweet potato paired well with the tropical flavours of the coconut and pineapple.  Naturally, the coconut rice was aromatic and had a nice bite, so it also did well with the ingredients.  Due to that mix, this bowl ate on the sweeter side.

Staying in the Americas, we went for the Peruvian with salmon, tuna and all kale.  So this was more a poke salad with Peruvian marinade, ponzu dressing, edamame, green onion, red chili, avocado, sesame seeds, crispy onions, cilantro and kale.  This ate very bright due to the citrus flavours.  There was also a mild spice to it while the crunch from onions provided texture.  Due to the cilantro, a certain herbaceousness was maintained in each bite.

Honestly, the Thai with chicken and kelp noodles was not really a "poke bowl", but it was delicious nonetheless.  It had coconut Thai green curry, pineapple, carrot, red pepper, cilantro, green chilies, sesame seeds, pickled red onions, ponzu and kale. With the combination of ingredients, there was tropical taste to it with spice, creaminess, sweetness and acidity.  I thought the chicken went well while the kelp noodles were chewy and firm.

We moved onto some Korean flavours next with the Koko featuring spicy gochujang, carrot, white onion, avocado, cucumber, kimchi, furikake, sesame seeds, cilantro, miso ginger vinaigrette and kale.  We decided to get this with tofu and that paired well with the spiciness.  We chose traditional sushi rice for this bowl and it was hearty and chewy, standing up to the strong flavours. Loved the ginger notes which helped give a bit of a sharpness to compliment the sweet spice.

Lastly, we had the trusty ol' Yuzu with ginger sesame dressing, avocado, cucumber, edamame, carrot, furikake, sesame seeds, crispy onion and kale with sushi rice.  This was the most "usual"-tasting bowl and especially with salmon and tuna, it ate like one too.  Sure, there were other things in the mix that added texture and flavour but this was your classic sweet and tangy concoction with raw fish and chewy rice.  So this was another great visit to Hula Poke.  I feel they have actually improved over time.  Lots of flavours and ingredients to choose from that can satisfy a variety of tastes.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Many different flavours that are unique
- More than just typical poke
- A variety of proteins and vegetarian options

The Bad:
- Can upset the authentic poke crowd
- Parking can be tough to find


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