Thayer street is changing. Instagram-friendly healthy food chains are flocking to College Hill. First came UMelt’s luscious grilled cheese, then By CHLOE’s vegan masterpieces, and now Pokeworks’ delectable fish and rice bowls. Some context: Pokeworks is a chain of fast-food Poke restaurants with 17 locations from Los Angeles to Vancouver to New York. Founded in 2015, the company hopes to bring authentic Hawaiian poke to hungry people across America.
What is Poke? Think sushi deconstructed in a bowl or wrapped in a burrito of nori. But pretty-looking, because Instagram. Usually it involves rice, fish—Salmon or Tuna—and toppings like cucumbers, seaweed salad, and edamame.
So, having endured a semester of Andrews poke, I was incredibly excited to get the real deal. As I walked through Pokeworks’ doors around seven p.m., a staff member behind the counter called out “Welcome to Pokeworks!” with a huge smile as I joined the lengthy line. A good start. Ordering is simple: pick a base, protein, and toppings as they mix the ingredients before your eyes. Some of it can seem a little unappetizing—taking small bits of salmon with an ice cream scoop—but everything is clearly fresh and made daily. Initially, I went with one of their “signature works” and ordered a “Shiso Salmon.” However, as I made my way down the aisle of ingredients, I got excited and started adding things. Hijiki? Yes please. Avocado? Obvi. Seaweed salad? I’ll take two of those. They then ask you to choose from a plethora of sauces. The guy behind the counter recommended Umami Shoyu, so I took it. Here’s what I thought of it all.
Delicious! The rise was sticky and yummy and absorbed the sauce nicely. The fish was not too “fishy” and the seaweed salad was the perfect balance of sweet and salty. If I had to complain, I’d say it lacked a spicy or flavorful kick. But I did ask for “medium” amount of sauce instead of “heavy,” so that may have contributed. All this deliciousness came at the hefty price of $16.50, including my avocado supplement. A little pricy for a weeknight meal, but it’s tasty, healthy, and quick.
It’s fast food, and feels like it. It’s cramped but brightly lit and cheerful. The line can take up most of the space, with a few small high tables next to it and a sitting counter at the window. It’s clear they intend most people to take out or eat quickly, which is fine. The décor is minimalist but creates a clean, fresh, and healthy atmosphere.
Awesome! Everyone was really nice and helpful. I noticed the rice station guy was particularly friendly, and it was his first day! Ordering is simple to understand and efficient. They even give you step by step instructions.
9/10. I would recommend Pokeworks to everyone who wants a quick, healthy, and yummy weeknight meal. It left me feeling full and satisfied but not gross and weighed down. My only quibble is the price, which definitely puts it out of reach for many students. I’m definitely going to try the sushi-burrito next time.
Images via and Ethan Rosenberg