Say sushi, and I’m all in. However, like my fellow Anteaters, I have spent too much time searching for a decent sushi place local to UC Irvine. I thought that if I couldn’t find prime sushi around town, then maybe I’d have to drive a little farther and expand my sushi horizons to poke bowls. PokiNometry fits the bill, and so I set out to Anaheim to try a Japanese take on the poke bowl.
PokiNometry, a Japanese sushi restaurant, draws poke-loving customers in from its choice location street side, at the corner of Harbor St. and West Center Street Promenade. It sits just blocks away from Honda Center, streets away from Disneyland, and next door to The Rinks — Anaheim ICE, the official training rink for the Ducks. This place attracts a young and lively crowd. The modern simplicity of the restaurant offered a calming effect at the end of a long day. Since its grand opening on April 30, the restaurant already has a five-star rating.
I walked under the neon red sign for PokiNometry and into a clean and zen space of pine tables that led up to service bar. I followed the white road arrows on the ground, which led me to the squeaky-clean service counter, at which one server waited against a backdrop of shiny white tile.
The friendly server asked me if I had ever tried poke and I happily responded, “This is my first try.” He gave me the beginner’s run-down, explaining that PokiNometry is a new style of sushi derived from Hawaiian dish, Poke. The raw, cubed fish served poke-style is adapted to Japanese sushi by adding sushi-based fish, sauces and rice. It’s a convenient way to enjoy your sushi because the ingredients are served mixed, in a bowl. I noticed it was served in a Styrofoam bowl, which was the only downside for me, while I imagine it makes life easier for the servers. However, this to-go style sushi makes it quick and easy for poke-lovers to grab and go to feed their fresh fish cravings.
I chose the plump brown rice as the bed for my small bowl from the options of white rice, brown rice, chips or salad greens. The next step in what reminded me of a Subway — or Chipotle-style service line-up — was a choice of mix-ins. I asked for avocado and cucumber — both of which were so thinly sliced they mixed wonderfully within the bowl — I passed on the onions and crabmeat. I had a choice of two scoops, a little smaller than a typical ice cream scoop, of fish for the small. The medium gets three scopes and the large gets four. I was impressed to see just how fresh the cubed fish appeared in its chilled silver serving case, and asked for tuna and salmon. The taste did not fail in comparison to the fresh presentation of the poke-style fish. It was a pleasantly fresh way to enjoy the flavors of sushi.
Last step was a choice of sauce, of which I chose the mild ponzu, a Japanese vinaigrette, upon the server’s recommendation. Looking back, I realized I would have enjoyed a little more spice, but now I have an excuse to go back and try a nacho-style poke bowl. There are plenty of spicy options ranging from soy to spicy-ponzu. PokiNometry also makes a mayo-based spicy sauce, in house. The server mixed the ingredients in a shiny salad bowl to marinate the poke. My quick poke bowl was almost ready. The choice of garnishes included smelt fish eggs, onion, sesame seeds and ginger. Topped off with ginger and a seaweed black sesame seasoning, my first poke bowl was complete. It was an evening of firsts for me at PokiNometry, so I tried a Japanese soda with my bowl. The Ramune carbonated soft drink seemed like a children’s toy, with a ball you pop into the glass bottle that traps the soft drink to make every sweet sip fizzy.
As I walked over with my poke bowl to take a seat, a Japanese mural caught my eye on the far left wall, with a bright full moon hovering over a pond. The letters P-O-K-I-N-O-M-E-T-R-Y formed the shape of a fish jumping high out of the silver water. I chose a seat at the long stretch of bar that looked out to the street, through windows that scaled from floor to ceiling. If there is a design to take you out of the concrete sphere of Anaheim, and into the peaceful mindset of fishing at the lake, this is the space. Little chalkboards at the utensil and soda bar say “Fresh Seafood — Catch of the Day” and welcome newcomers with a suggestion for their first bowl.
As a general rule, I am a light eater, but put sushi in front of me and I can enjoy the mix of fresh fish and rice for a while. So, as I enjoyed my first poke bowl with chopsticks, I was impressed to see that even the small size at $10 satisfied my sushi cravings. I can imagine that the large size can adequately satiate the most hungry of customers. I admit that while chopping on the plump cubes of marinated tuna and salmon, I uttered the very words that appear to be PokiNometry’s motto: “Nom nom nom.”