FISHBOWL POKE CO.
ADDRESS: 18427 Nordhoff Street, Suite B, Northridge, CA 91325
Living right near the coastline here in Florida gives me access to quite a few different seafood options. But surprisingly enough, the one food trend that hasn’t seemed to take off is poke bowls. When my family was vacationing in Hawaii a few years back, I remember poke being very prevalent on the islands at quite a few restaurants. My recent business trip to California gave me another opportunity to once again try this Hawaiian-inspired dish.
After getting out of a movie showing with my friend Kevin and his girlfriend Emma, we were contemplating which local spot to hit up for some dinner. When I suggested going back to Got Sushi, Kevin countered with getting poke bowls instead. I’d still get the sushi flavors I was craving, but with an opportunity to try another new spot while I was in town.
Funny enough, the last time I had been in the Northridge area, I had driven right by the exact plaza that Fishbowl Poke Co. was located in. I knew there was a reason the place looked familiar as I turned into the parking lot. The storefront itself is sandwiched in between a few other places within a strip mall. But the fish-shaped logo on the sign above the entrance is what helps distinguish the restaurant a bit.
The bowl construction itself is pretty straightforward: choose your base, then your fish, then your sauce, and finish it off with toppings. You move right down the assembly line with your bowl, with the fresh ingredients all laid out in front of you, making it that much harder to choose.
This was like my worst food nightmare, since everything sounded good and I wanted to give it all a try. But sadly, the plastic container was not the size of one of those giant ramen bowls, and I had to be selective on what I asked for. All things considered, however, I think I still ended up with a really diverse array of flavors incorporated into the bowl.
I immediately went for the large bowl, because I wasn’t messing around when it came to poke. It was interesting to see the construction process, since they would put all of your fish, sauce, and veggies into a bowl to mix it up before topping it over the rice. I thought it was a smart way to make sure all the flavors were distributed evenly within the bowl as well.
Sushi rice consisted of the my bowl’s base, and then they dropped the spicy tuna, seared albacore, and salmon I asked for into a separate mixing bowl. Citrus ponzu and spicy mayo went into that bowl, followed by some cilantro, seaweed salad, masago, krab salad, avocados, and green onions. All of that got mixed up before getting dropped into my container and topped off with some crispy garlic, furikake, sesame seeds, and some rice puffs (their gluten-free substitute for tempura flakes).
It only took me one bite to remember why poke bowls had become such a food phenomenon. It’s so smart to deconstruct a sushi roll and throw all the ingredients into a bowl. You get all the same flavors that you crave, just without the artisanship of making the roll and the elegant presentations. Not to mention, I think you get a lot more quantity of food in the bowl, but yet I didn’t feel heavy or anything like that after finishing it off.
All the ingredients of the bowl tasted so fresh, and the flavors melded together very well. Despite being buried underneath a mountain of toppings, all of the fish that I chose definitely had a pronounced flavor to them whenever I managed to scoop some into a bite. Needless to say, this second encounter with poke bowls since I saw them in Hawaii was a resounding success.
In a way, I’m a bit sad that poke bowls are not a bigger thing out here on the east coast (or maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places). But one thing is for sure: the quality and freshness of the ingredients at Fishbowl really helped make the poke bowl stand out. It certainly makes me look forward to my next trip out to the area, when I can get the chance to stop in again.
Let’s now take a look at the Fishbowl Poke Co. Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Large Bowl — Spicy Tuna, Seared Albacore, and Salmon **
Sushi rice base with spicy tuna, seared albacore, and salmon, mixed in with citrus ponzu, spicy mayo, cilantro, seaweed salad, masago, krab salad, avocados, and green onions. Topped with crispy garlic, furikake, sesame seeds, and rice puffs.
And finally, here are my rankings for Fishbowl Poke Co.:
Food: 4.75 / 5
The freshness of the ingredients was evident from the very first bite. There is such a wide assortment of fish and toppings to choose from, enough that you could make any number of combinations even on return visits.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
I liked the modern feel to the interior décor, with touches of marble, wood, tile, and glass used throughout both the poke bar as well as the dining area. The front windows also help to let in a lot of natural light to brighten up the entire area.
Service: 3.5 / 5
I got a weird vibe from the person working behind the poke bar, almost like we were inconveniencing her because we were there to order some food. She made the order just fine, but looked apathetic the whole time doing it.
Price: 4.5 / 5
Considering the price for the poke bowl came in at less than normally what I pay for two signature sushi rolls, I was pretty happy. Not to mention, the portion of what you get was much more as well.