Poke U recently opened inside Zion market’s food court. While most of the food vendors inside Zion market have been a steady presence since Zion market opened, this space seems to be an unlucky one. It’s gone through several concept changes including fast food Chinese food restaurant, sushi restaurant, perhaps one or two that have slipped my mind, and now a build-your-own poke bowl restaurant. Oh and they also serve ramen too.
I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to try it out, but since I’ve tried out every other poke restaurant that’s popped up in San Diego so far, I felt like I had to give it a try.
All the poke bowls are made-to-order, and you choose your base, fishes, toppings and sauce. You can choose from a small, medium or large bowl. Most of the other place we’ve been to just have two sizes: regular or large. We chose a medium, which was about the same amount of food as the typical large.
Typically, poke consists of raw fish that is briefly marinated in a poke sauce. Every restaurant has their own version of this sauce, but it usually includes soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and then a few other ingredients. So I was very surprised that Poke U didn’t yet have a pre-made poke sauce. After we chose our fishes (they also have a chicken option for those who don’t like seafood and don’t want tofu), the person helping us out held up a bottle of sesame oil and a bottle of soy sauce and asked us if we wanted to add it to the fish. She then squirted a little of each into the raw fish and tossed the fish.
There was a decent selection of toppings to choose from, most which are included in the price. There were only two that had a $1.00 extra charge (avocado and krab salad). They also offer a variety of finishing sauces, which are placed at the register so that you can help yourself to them and add as much or as little as you want.
So what did we think? Well the portions of the fish, rice and toppings were all pretty generous. Taste-wise, the fish really did need to be tossed in a proper poke sauce. It needed some rice vinegar or other acidic element. I also felt the rice was served way too hot, warming up the fish and toppings. The bowl left us full but not very satisfied.
Of course, the restaurant did just open and perhaps they are still working out the kinks. But for right now, it’s not a spot I’d put on my regular poke rotation. There are quite a few other places to get a good bowl not too far away.
Poke U (inside Zion market food court)
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111