We were greeted with a “Howzit!” when we stepped into Ono Poke in Edmonds. That’s Hawaiian for “How’s it going?” — just in case you didn’t know.
My colleague Ben Watanabe and I tried lunch this week at the new restaurant serving authentic Hawaiian poke, or raw marinated fish salad. Poke — pronounced “poh-kay” — means to cut into cubes.
Neither of us had eaten poke before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. All we knew was that it was similar to sushi.
Steven Ono, owner and namesake of the restaurant, is from Oahu where poke is a staple. After he moved here, the one craving he couldn’t satisfy was for good, authentic poke. So he opened his own place.
“It’s been this craze in California and New York, but it’s been really late to hit Seattle,” he said. “But I’m not trying to be trendy. I was just trying to get that taste of home. This is true Hawaiian comfort food.”
The fast-casual restaurant offers a variety of marinated fish, like tuna (ahi), salmon and octopus (tako), paired with sides of seaweed salad and rice. If you don’t eat meat, there are also vegan alternatives such as tofu, edamame and cucumber kimchi. The menu changes daily.
Ono is proud to offer only the highest quality fish: It’s all fresh, sustainable and organic, flown in every day from Hawaii, Japan and Alaska.
I ordered a poke bowl of shoyu salmon and spicy ahi with both sides. The seaweed salad was served atop the type of greens you’d find in a spring mix.
It was light and delicious. My new favorite way to eat sushi is cubed and in a bowl. The marinade on the tuna and salmon perfectly complemented the velvety smooth and mild meaty flavors of the raw fish. The seaweed salad was sweet and crispy.
Ben ordered a bowl of kapakahi (a mix of salmon and tuna) and the tako, also with the seaweed salad and sushi rice.
Here’s how he explained it: While poke is made with raw fish, rice and seaweed like sushi, when you put it all together it’s a different flavor experience.
“The salmon was described by the gregarious and helpful man behind the counter (Ono) as ‘buttery,’ and he was totally right,” Ben said. “The ahi tuna was superb, delicious and tasted fresh. The tako, or octopus, was a bit salty but added some savory to the rest of the dish.
“All in all, Ono Poke’s bowl was a satisfying yet light meal. I devoured it in a flurry, partly out of habit and also because it was delicious and begging to be consumed.”
We’re not the only ones who are fans of poke after just one bowl. The lines prove that Ono Poke is already a popular place for lunch and dinner. Since it opened March 1, the place has sold out of poke every day.
You won’t notice the lines, though, because Ono — whose last name means “delicious” in Hawaiian — is friendly and fun. He likes to joke around and give out samples while you wait.
If you’re from Hawaii and even if you’re not, we recommend you try one of Ono’s poke bowls. It’s perfect for anyone craving fine fish for a fair price.
Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke
10016 Edmonds Way, Edmonds; 425-361-7064; http://eatonopoke.com.
Poke bowls are served Tuesday – Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are three bowl sizes: Small is $9, regular is $12 and large is $15.
No alcohol. Hawaiian juices, iced tea and bottled water are available to drink.