What do you get when you put raw fish, sauce and rice in a bowl? A delicious trend.
Poke is the Hawaiian phenom that traditionally describes chunks of raw fish marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil. Until recently, this creation had marginal visibility on local menus. But if “healthy” and “sushi-grade ahi tuna” make your heart go pitter-patter, your poke “bowl” haven has arrived: Freshfin Poké.
Co-owner Nate Arkush, a Michigander-cum-Milwaukeean, is the first to the gate with his completely poke (“poh-kay”) restaurant. Poke-inspired, that is.
The menu rolled out with five “signatures” (raw ahi tuna and salmon, cooked shrimp and chicken and a vegetable option) in two bowl sizes (8-ounce $7.95-$8.95; 16-ounce $11.95-$12.95). You also can customize a bowl with protein, base (rice or mixed greens), sauce, vegetables/fruits and toppings like pickled ginger. For a few more dollars, there are premium add-ons like avocado and macadamia nuts. Arkush’s goal is to “introduce a new component every 30 days,” he says. This spring, that means side dishes and a dessert acai bowl.
The zen-like “fast-casual” setting is warm and inviting, and the food, tasty and fun. Drinks are soft, and those options will expand, too.
After trying the signature Mango Tango and concluding that it’s too much rice, not enough salmon, I decide to follow my poke-building heart the next time, subbing greens for rice and different sauces (sriracha and shoyu are a creamy, rich duo; cilantro-lime and spicy ginger, salty but light). Things I’ve learned: The 16-ounce bowl is the ideal meal size, and most combos will send you down a path that tastes, if not terrific, good. And talk about refreshing. Even though its island inspiration is over 4,000 miles away from MKE, poke is a sunny day in bowl form. ◆
1806 E. North Ave., 414-239-8677.
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; extended weekend hours to come.
Service: Fast and friendly.