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Restaurant Review: Poke Green Offers a Taste of Hawaii in NYC

Cuisine: Hawaiian

Best for: Take-out, Dine in

Price: $

Location: 164 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10005

Food trends are happening quicker and quicker, especially in a busy, bustling city such as New York. Foods like spaghetti donuts, sushi burritos, and kale got popular quickly and everyone wanted to get in on the new, hot thing.

Food trucks and festivals are the perfect location to gorge on some of the trendiest foods that are taking over social media. Health food stores like Whole Foods have expanded their market to include all varieties of food, boasting organic and vegan options.

But sometimes, a trend turns into a standard. Just recently, Poke (po-kay) restaurants have popped up all over the city. Serving Hawaiian cuisine, these restaurants are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise fast-food, greasy, smoke pit that is NYC during a weekday lunch rush.

Poke Green is a restaurant located in downtown Manhattan, where quick lunches are necessary for many busy workers. Instead of dishing out several dollars at over-priced fast-food restaurants, Poke Green gives customers the satisfaction of feeling full and ready to continue the day. Other lunch options might make them feel like they’d need a nap. But Poke Green is different.

Like deconstructed sushi, Poke Green offers sashimi-type fare with the freshest ingredients. They are organic and use sustainably sourced seafood, receiving shipments weekly. And that’s the direct mission at Poke Green: simple ingredients and fresh food.

The start of the line is farthest from the door, encouraging the line that accumulates during the lunch rush to keep moving. If you choose a bowl, your options are white, brown, or black rice. That’s right. This restaurant has black rice. A delicacy in Asian cuisine, black rice has many health benefits and it’s exciting to eat. It’s black rice!

Once you choose your rice, you’re greeted by the beverage refrigerator. This was super exciting because there are a TON of options. The first shelf contains run of the mill soft drinks that you can find anywhere. But the other shelves are special. There are many options for Hawaiian brand drinks that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Or find it easily and cheap, for that matter. This restaurant is definitely special in terms of drink selection.

Time for the food. You could either choose a rice bowl, salad bowl or burrito. Then there’s the option of making your own bowl or selecting one from the menu.

There are several options for the protein base that goes on the rice/salad. Choose from raw tuna, raw salmon, shrimp, seared ahi tuna, and even chicken among other choices. Then you dress up the bowl! Choose from spicy or sweet seaweed and various vegetables like cucumbers and edamame. Other mixers include jalapeño and sweet corn. The sauce comes after the add-ins.

This can seem a bit overwhelming, but who doesn’t like options? Plus you’ll definitely be satisfied with any sauce you choose, so go crazy. Pick one with your eyes closed!

Then you choose the toppings. The choices here were all delicious, ranging from a special kind of caviar (masago) to avocado (spoiler alert, its extra) to wasabi. After the toppings, you get to add “crunch.” What? Yeah. Choose from delicious flavors such as crunchy onion crisps, sesame seeds, and toasted rice puffs.

For my meal, I chose a white rice bowl as my base. I picked seared ahi tuna and shrimp for my proteins. I didn’t go too crazy with the add-ins, I just asked for edamame, cucumbers, and hijiki seaweed. After some consideration, I decided on the Sesame Ginger sauce. The woman behind the counter offered a taste of any sauce before I chose it, which was very nice. I topped that all with seaweed salad, masago, and kani salad. And that got topped with onion crisps and sesame seeds.

The beautiful result:

Digging in to the first bite was so exciting, I wanted to try to get every single ingredient as humanly possible between my chopsticks. Right away I could tell this was the real deal. Everything was so FRESH. Everything had so much flavor, it seemed like the ingredients just burst all over my taste buds and had a party.

Poke Green was phenomenal. I left feeling very satisfied with the service and the food, and I will definitely be back for seconds.

Rating: 5 out of 5 rice bowls

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