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Bear Bites

Bear Bites: Go Fish Poke Bar

In what appears to be a recurring trend, we decided to visit yet another seafood place. This time, we weren’t entirely to blame. Instead, photographer Megan McDonnell suggested the Go Fish Poke Bar as our next destination. You might also notice significantly better pictures and general production value in this episode. We received complaints (mostly from Megan) about the quality of our pictures in previous stories, taken mostly from Ben’s broken phone. While I will admit that it was initially quite funny to watch Ben alternating between either hitting his phone or swearing at it, it was a lot less so when we realized that a disturbing amount of the photographs that we had taken either went missing or were never saved in the first place. This time, Megan came along — which means that you can blame any and all image-related issues on her.

 

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The Chipotle-esque ordering process.

Jasper
When we arrived at the Poke Bar, nestled next to a McDonald’s (more on that later) and enticingly close to a Godiva that Ben and I spent several decadent minutes exploring, Ben let me in on a little secret, perhaps at an inopportune time — he did not like fish. This naturally came as a shock to me, considering his evident appreciation for both the New England Lobster Market and Cook’s Seafood. His justification for the former was that lobsters are not fish, and for the latter that the heavy batter at Cook’s masked the worst fishy aspects of his meal. Poke, however, the meal that we would be eating at the Poke Bar, is essentially sushi sashimi in a bowl. Often described as “sushi salad,” it’s nothing more than raw fish tossed over rice. It’s hard to get more fishy than raw fish. I personally love sushi and was looking forward to my meal with a ravenous hunger; Ben, slightly less so.

img_3595 We huddled into the warmth of the brightly lit Poke Bar, desperate to escape the chill of almost-winter California (I’m serious, it must have dropped to, like, 55 degrees — I didn’t sign up to freeze to death). The interior was relatively compact, but high ceilings and judiciously-spaced tables meant that we never felt cramped. It was set up in a very Chipotle-esque manner, where we picked out our preferred ingredients, walking through the various stages: rice, fish, toppings, sauces, and so on. It was fairly self-explanatory, the only hiccup being when we found several items unpronounceable and ended up, half-panicked, holding up the line and gesticulating furiously. For future reference, it’s generally better to point at the item you want instead of everything else in its immediate vicinity.

Jasper's poke bowl.
Jasper’s poke bowl.

I ended up picking out a bowl with blue crab meat, yellowfin tuna, salmon, and the “Signature Poke Mix,” mixed with a ponzu sauce (a tangy, citrus-based sauce). Toppings-wise, I will admit to some minor confusion that led ultimately to the addition of about three-quarters of all of the add-ons before I realized my mistake. This does mean that I am not quite sure what I ordered, but the mystery combination — including, I believe, sesame, seaweed, and mushrooms of some kind — was delicious. At one point, I looked over to see Ben, bowl cradled in one arm and fork clutched in the other, furiously stirring his bowl like a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a vengeance, apparently attempting to puree his meal, but I, for the most part, kept my bowl like it was served.

Some bites would be entirely salmon or entirely tuna, but I tried to mix up my bites. No matter what each forkful held, I was more than satisfied, especially with my meal drenched in Ponzu sauce and my personal mystery mix of toppings. The salmon and tuna alike were delectable, and with each mouthful, I dreaded reaching the end. For the quality of the fish, I was expecting either small portions or high prices, but for a little under twelve dollars both Ben and I were more than able to eat our fill. I enjoyed every single bite I took, and for such a satisfying and mouthwatering meal I unreservedly award this place 5 stars.

Ben
As we stepped into line, I tried to make use of the tight window before I had to decide on my meal and figure out how the ordering system worked. Intimidated by the dozens of different food options that lay before me, I desperately asked around and soon discovered that the assembly process was akin to that of Chipotle’s. With this in mind, I selected my food with relative ease, not accounting for the difficult pronunciations which I ignored in favor of hand motions in the general direction of the ingredients I desired. I decided to be adventurous, and after choosing my fish, I opted to have every topping and spice in their extensive selection added to my dish. What resulted was a behemoth of a poke bowl that, for a “regular” size, was near impossible for me to work through.

Ben's poke bowl.
Ben’s poke bowl.

After paying, we selected a table outside so that the brisk winter chill could keep Jasper from dozing off, and dug in.

Ben dousing his meal with sriracha.
Ben dousing his meal with sriracha.

As a result of my general dislike of all things sushi, I elected to douse my entire meal with multiple packets of hot sriracha and soy sauce, unfortunately misjudging the potency of the spicy condiment. For the sake of the Bear Bites segment, I powered through, and despite the intense burning in my mouth, I was able to pick out hints of actual flavor. First and foremost, I absolutely loved the dozens of popping, powerful flavors that emerged from the massive assortment of toppings I chose to put in my bowl. They all complemented each other extremely well (which I suspect was deliberate), and tasted relatively fresh and flavorful. The fish was also quite delectable, and although the large chunks of meat occasionally led to bites of solely fish flesh, the large array of condiments I bathed my meal in made up for a potential lack of flavor.

Overall, it was a fairly good meal, and I give it a 4/5 mostly due to my personal distaste for cuisine of that type, however, for what it’s worth, all the food was extremely high quality and I could not recommend it more for both casual sushi lovers and aficionados alike.

Ben and Jasper enjoying good conversation and poke bowls.
Ben and Jasper enjoying good conversation and poke bowls.

After we finished our meal, Jasper and I voiced our unanimous opinion to Megan, our photographer — we had decided through an unspoken agreement to go on an eating binge at the McDonald’s next door, a decision I made despite my inability to finish my meal due to being “full.” Megan departed immediately and left us to carry out our unorthodox plans, and with unchecked power and voracious motivations, we headed into the McDonald’s to load up. Fifteen minutes and a lot of cheap junk food later, we were still unsatisfied, and Jasper and I proceeded to embark on a near hour-long journey around Stanford Shopping Center, sampling chocolates and cheeses from all the grocery stores and candy shops in a one-mile radius.

Our mall-wide eating spree was cut short by a lack of funds, and patting our empty wallets and significantly fuller stomachs, we made our way over to the parking lot to head home.

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