Fast Food · Fusion · Hawaiian · Restaurants · Seafood

Pacific Poke – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, I wanted a break from cooking. I was yearning for something different, like Ethiopian from Yegna Restaurant on International Avenue. However, a little voice inside my head asked me, “Is it wise to travel so far? What would Dr. Hinshaw say?” I pictured Dr. Hinshaw’s kind face and I could hear her soft-spoken voice telling me to order delivery or pick up food from a restaurant closer to home. I guess I’m feeling pretty lonely if I’m having imaginary conversations with my medical hero. For this post, let’s listen to “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

I was still craving something out of the ordinary, so I called Pacific Poke  for pick up. L and I both ordered a large build your own poke bowl ($16), which included three proteins and four toppings. When I carried the food back into the house, I was surprised by the weight of the bowls. Pacific Poke doesn’t skimp on the portions.

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We both chose traditional sushi rice, ahi tuna, wild salmon and crab. L topped his bowl with a double order of seaweed salad, sesame miso hummus, ginger jicama, avocado nori (+$1.50) and masago (+$1.50). I picked a double order of seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, ginger jicama, and masago (+$1.50).

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Posted without permission from Pacific Poke.

Pacific Poke serves sustainable seafood. The cubed salmon was a bright orange colour, richly flavoured and smooth in texture. The crab was creamy and when I poked at the mixture, it came apart in fluffy strands. The ahi tuna was firm and fresh. L and I were both impressed with the fish. The masago was worth the extra charge – the fish roe provided a salty pop of the sea.

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L and I thought we could detect a spicy heat in the house ponzu sauce. The amount of sauce was just enough to bind all the toppings to the seafood and rice. The white rice was firm, slightly warm, with a pronounced hint of vinegar. We were both surprised the rice was so good, considering Pacific Poke isn’t a traditional Japanese restaurant. I’m curious to see if the brown rice is as well-made as the sushi rice.

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I liked all the toppings I picked. The seaweed was crunchy and tangy. The jicama tasted like a Korean pear and added a sweet, refreshing crunch. I took a bite of L’s avocado nori and hummus. The avocado was smooth and tart, the seasoning reminded me of guacamole. I think the hummus he chose would have paired well with the more non-traditional ingredients, like quinoa, corn salsa, chicken or vegetarian proteins. One issue with making your own bowl is that unless you know what you are doing, some of your choices may not pair as well as Pacific Poke’s chef inspired bowls.

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I haven’t tried all the poke restaurants in Calgary, but so far Pacific Poke is my favourite. The quality is superb and the ratio of protein to rice to topping is proportional. When we return, I’d like to try a dish off the chef inspired menu, such as The Main or The Cali. Hitting the Sauce gives Pacific Poke two fat thumbs up.

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Fusion · Hawaiian · Restaurants

Lulu Bar

I met Jaime and Invisible Sandi at Frenchie Wine Bar. Invisible Sandi’s husband Boudoir stopped by for a drink. When we finished our wine, we all walked over to Lulu Bar for dinner. For this post, let’s listen to a song Lulu Bar played that totally made my day.

Lulu Bar took over the old Local 510 spot. If you ever frequented the previous establishment, you’ll recognize the bones of the former bar. The space feels open and bright.  With the warm breeze blowing into the room I felt like vacationing somewhere sunny.

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After I ordered wine from our server, I realized how annoying I am. Based on her facial response, I have to tone my specification down. I blame Bar Von Der Fels as they encourage me to be picky until I find a glass I love. I enjoyed the glass of French chardonnay she picked for me. I didn’t find it oaky or buttery.

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We ordered a small bowl of Sambal Popcorn ($3.50). The seasoning was so tangy and spicy it made me sneeze. I covered my mouth with my hand but a piece of the popcorn flew out onto my hair. I tried to discreetly pick it off, but the kernel was stuck on pretty good.

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Boudoir ordered the Hot Dog Baos ($9), his favourite dish of the night. He said the hot dog reminded him of a sweet pepperoni bun. Invisible Sandi didn’t say much about the food, maybe because she was too busy amusing everyone with her whimsical quips.

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Jaime and I enjoyed our Fried Miso Cured Egg ($4). I liked the heat from the tamarind chili jam. The batter on the egg and crunch of the cucumber relish made this appetizing dish pop.

Boudoir thought his Fried Coconut Squid ($13) was underseasoned. I didn’t taste any heat or salt, just the sweetness of the pineapple sauce. I thought the squid itself was tender and better quality than I’m accustomed to.

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Jaime said the Snow Peas and Tendrils ($10) was a dish that her parents would make at home. The pods were crunchy with a satisfying snap. The flavour profile was nice – a hint of sesame, fresh horseradish and the smoky char of the peas. I’d order this again.

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I usually find yams and sweet potatoes overly sweet. Lulu’s version was a winner. The fresh mint, yuzu cashew cream and salt flakes balanced the sweetness of the Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes ($10).

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My favourite dish was the Steamed Lobster Dumplings ($16). These dumplings made me finally understand the phrase ‘Asian sensation’. The lobster filling was luxurious, slippery from its bath of fresh basil, chili, soy sauce and tobiko. I’d order this again and I wouldn’t want to share.veg dump.jpg

Jaime was too full so I ate two of her vegetarian dumplings ($13). Compared to the lobster dumplings, the vegetarian version was squishier and simpler. If you’re a vegetarian, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for you.

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We shared the Baked Kuna ($11). Jaime enjoyed the macadamia nuts and the warm dark chocolate.  I liked the process of drizzling the chocolate over the cake, even though I know the kitchen staff would have done a better job with the presentation.

Thanks Jaime for treating me out to a fun filled night. I plan to return to Lulu with L. I know he would love the vibe and the lobster dumplings.

Lulu Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fast Food · Hawaiian · Japanese · poke · Restaurants

Kona Poke

Asian Persuasion and Lil Strawberriee saw Kona Poke’s pictures on Instagram. Located in the Plus 15, it helps if you bring along someone familiar with the office maze. Office Dad easily navigated us to Kona Poke but when he saw the line-up, he ditched us for Vic’s HK Café in Chinatown.

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We waited at least 30 minutes in the line-up. There was one staffer who cheerfully apologized for the wait and he would take an extra couple minutes to chitchat and talk to the customers about the Kona experience. After waiting so long, it was nice to get that extra special care.

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Build your own poke bowl is easy to do with Kona’s 1-2-3 steps. Step one – pick a size. A regular contains two scoops of seafood for $10.50 and a large offers three scoops for $13.50. If you have a big appetite, get the large. The regular size was perfect for a light lunch.

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Step two – pick a base. Choose from sushi rice, brown rice, field greens and tortilla chips. Kona was out of sushi rice so I asked for brown rice and field greens. The brown rice was very warm but by the time I got back to my cubicle, it cooled down. Initially, I was disappointed not to get sushi rice, but it turns out the brown rice is my favourite. Nutty and firm, it adds a nice chew and contrast to the softness of the fish.

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Step three – pick your sides. Cucumber, jalapeños, sweet onions, red cabbage, and for extra avocado ($1.50), crab ($1.50) and crab n cado ($2.00). I picked cucumber, sweet onions and red cabbage. I was informed that the crab was a bit like a crab salad.

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Step four – pick any two scoops of albacore tuna, salmon, octopus or ahi tuna. An extra scoop will set you back $2.00. Kona was out of ahi tuna, but I could still get tuna and salmon. Next time, I’d add an extra scoop of seafood, just because I’d like a piece of fish in every bite.

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Step five – add your sauce. Options include: Kona ponzu, maple miso, lava and spicy mayo. I asked what was in the lava but it was pretty loud and all I got was awesome. I added the Kona ponzu, lava and spicy mayo.

Step six – stack it up with crunchy peas, ginger, sesame seeds, furkikae, green onion, wasabi and masago. Unfortunately, Kona was out of crunch peas. I added everything but ginger.

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I mixed up all the ingredients and quickly devoured my delicious bowl of goodies. The ingredients and sauces melded well together. For $11, I thought Kona offered good value for fresh, healthy, personalized fast food.  In the future, I’d love to see fresh seaweed salad as a topping. As this was Kona’s first week, I completely understand that they ran out of ingredients. I’m a fan and plan on bringing more of my office mates to try the ahi tuna poke. Next on our foodie list – Poke and Vitality Tap.

Kona Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato