20th October 2016
3/551 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
I admit it – Buzzfeed is a guilty pleasure of mine. I just find their listicles to be perfect bite-sized pieces of entertainment; kind of like Maltesers – once you pop, you can’t stop! And one section I’m especially fond of aside from the quizzes – this magical test will give you your food patronus! – is the food section. It is positively a buffet of recipes, lists, and yes, food-related quizzes!
One food that’s come up repeatedly on Buzzfeed is poké – a traditional Hawaiian dish of raw and seasoned seafood, chopped into bite-sized pieces and usually served on rice. Unfortunately I didn’t know a single place in Melbourne where I could give this dish a try… until the opening of Pokéd, Melbourne’s first dedicated poké restaurant.
Started up by a medical student, Pokéd takes health and flavour equally as seriously. The ingredients are prepared fresh daily and sourced sustainably, and all the bowls – pre-designed or custom-made – are built to order Subway-style. On the other hand, I wasn’t so sure about the seating. It’s supposed to make you sit up straighter to aid digestion and posture, but it just doesn’t work when you’re as short as I am.
Feeling lazy, I went for a pre-designed bowl, The Hawaiian ($10.95, regular). I was very happy with how this turned out, the warm sushi rice topped with vibrant condiments. The cubes of salmon and tuna were fresh and firm, marinated lightly with soy sauce. Served alongside was a rainbow of veggies; purple cabbage, green seaweed, red tomatoes, white scallions – and that’s just the tip of the poke bowl! And just to show that they still know how to have fun, the bowl was scattered with a handful of crispy deep-fried wonton skins, which I devoured gleefully.
The Meat Lovers ($12.95) is a poke bowl for the seafood-un-enthusiast. The premise is pretty much the same, except the seafood has been replaced with sous vide steak and chicken, and a slightly different selection of veggies. I wasn’t as keen on this one; I thought both the chicken and beef were leaning towards being dry and bland, and cold meat on warm rice is definitely not my idea of a quality meal. This probably would’ve been better with the teriyaki sauce that was originally supposed to come with it, but unfortunately they had run out for the day, and we had to settle for Hawaiian soy.
In the current climate of over-the-top-indulgent meals (freakshakes anyone?), Pokéd stands out with its effort to be fresh and healthy. There are plenty of wholesome seafood and veggies to put into your bowl, and the option of choosing between white and brown rice at no extra charge. The worst you can really do is to pick the spicy mayo over the Hawaiian soy, and white rice over brown. Although I wasn’t blown away by the food, which was pretty much your standard chirashi, I was really impressed with the concept, and the effort that’s clearly been put in to create a dining option that is equally good for your tastebuds and your arteries.
Rating: 12.5/20 – gotta catch ‘em all, pokébowls!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.