Team Lunch Hawaii Style: Poké

Poké Bowls

If you have to take care of ordering a team lunch, best to keep things interesting and try something new I say!

I could have ordered some sandwiches. It would have been easier really. Sandwiches are safe, and we’ve ordered them before.

But that’s just not me.

I have a serious aversion to doing the same thing over and over again. I wanted something new and tasty, that could also accommodate everyones’ unique tastes.  So what did I come up with?

Poké!

All thanks to the food delivery app Foodora actually.

A quick scroll through the available options was all it took to come up with a perfect solution; Poké from The Poké Shop in Gastown.

This place is literally a 10 to 15 mins walk from my house. Yet I had no clue it existed. Then again… it’s not easy to spot since it’s a sub-level establishment on Water Street.

There were a few hiccups… 

  1. I couldn’t get my 5 person order delivered because the time kept changing from 12pm to 3pm during the checkout process on the app. I assumed this might be a timezone bug on the app since no where did it say they couldn’t do deliveries. So I had to pick up the food.
  2. The restaurant forgot one of the drinks, and I only noticed when I had already arrived at the office. So I made everyone share.

But other than that… everyone was super happy with their customized Poké bowl.

Photo by khanghl20000 on Pixabay

Traditional Hawaiian Tuna Poké. Photo by khanghl20000 on Pixabay.

My order (Bowl bottom left near chop sticks) was:

  • 1/2 Japonica White Rice 1/2 Organic Purple Rice
  • Ahi Tuna + Wild Sockeye Salmon
  • Red Radish, Guacamole, Pineapple, Cilantro, Cucumber, Edamame, Nori, Sesame Seeds
  • Spicy Sauce

I thought mine was very delicious, and the drink I sampled (Pineapple Plantation Ice Tea) was super yum too. The portion size (regular) was just right.

Based on this initial experience I think I will omit the guacamole and add pickled ginger for next time though. How could I have omitted the ginger?!?

 

Hawaii Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

                          The birthplace of Poké – Hawaii. Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

 

Poké Newbie to Poké Master

Truth be told it was my first time ordering Poké. (What?!)

A handful of Poké specific restaurants have opened in Vancouver over the past three years, and I definitely noticed them….but I hadn’t actually bridged that culinary gap until this team lunch gave me the opportunity.

So my Poké experience turned out to be the culinary highlight of an otherwise stressful day!

Thank God for food… and the Hawaiian fishermen who came up with this super tasty dish!

 

The Poké Shop in Gastown

A Po’ Boy in Yaletown – A trip to Wild Tale post New Orleans

BC Oyster Po' Boy Side View

Talk about serendipity…

Wandering into a busy Yaletown restaurant for lunch on a sunny Saturday, less than 24 hours after returning home from a glorious foodie inspired week in New Orleans…. and seeing (to my utter surprise) BC Oyster Po’ Boy on the menu!

Cue brain explosion: What?! Is this actually a thing I can find & enjoy in Vancouver?!

The New Orleans culinary adventure wasn’t over yet! So of course I stopped looking at anything else on the menu, because I knew exactly what I wanted to eat; a delicious Po’ Boy.

 

Wild Tale Lunch Menu

Wild Tale Lunch Menu

Wild Tale Drinks Menu

Wild Tale Drinks Menu

 

I ordered a Rosé from France without even realizing it was Rosé day. I’m all about the Rosé in Summer! 

Castaway Cocktail & French Rose Wine

 

My Po’ Boy – served open face.

BC Oyster Po' Boy

 

The Po’ Boy – A New Orleans Classic:

According to local legend, the term comes from the phrase ‘Poor Boys’.

Pronounced ‘Po’, in Louisiana’s southern dialect, and spelled alternately with an apostrophe or hyphen or without (Po’ Boy/ Po-Boy/ Po Boy), the sandwich was originally served to streetcar strikers, and later to the general working class of New Orleans, aka the ‘Poor Boys’ of the area.

Here’s a The Mind of a Chef YouTube video about the history of the sandwich.

These sandwiches are ubiquitous in New Orleans and NOLA residents are very passionate and opinionated on where you can find the best Po’ Boy in town.

 

Ask any local, and they will tell you, with fervor, where to find the best po-boy in town, from take-out corner stores to dive bars to sit-down eateries. Know that New Orleanians are prepared to passionately defend this position. Expect supporting details from the quantity of the meats, to the crispiness of the bread, to the value vs. price debate, to the atmosphere of the venue. Indeed, feelings can run so high that it’s almost dangerous to publish any list purporting to be the city’s best.

– Eater New Orleans

 

Me in three layers of clothing … after a week of 33* Celsius weather. Bit of an adjustment being back in Vancouver! 

 

Frequency Illusion at Wild Tale? 

Thomas and I don’t normally land at a restaurant haphazardly.

We tend to know exactly where we are going, after compromising on a mutually agreed upon location. I’m fussy and hate going to the same place too often. He has dietary restrictions and is all about the reviews.

Yet on this particular day I just wanted to find any sunny patio that looked nice, and get something (anything!) to eat from there. Basically, survival mode thinking when you are travel fatigued and need to eat.

I guided us towards Yaletown as it’s the closest and easiest for us, with row after row of patio options, and we ended up at a seafood restaurant called Wild Tale.

Now I’ve been to this restaurant before, but only for dinner, and we’d just missed the brunch menu at the time we arrived (after 2:30pm). So lunch menu it was, and coincidentally, the Po’ Boy is only available on the lunch menu.

Prior to this New Orleans trip I had no clue what a Po’ Boy was. So I wonder what I would have imagined it to be?? Perhaps an Asian inspired dish?

Would I have asked the server for details or glossed over the option entirely seeing as I’m not usually a fan of fried oysters? I’ll never know…

What I do know is that my eyes probably looked like saucers when they landed on the Po’ Boy option and I was all in! 🙂

 

My Po’ Boy – Top View (the coleslaw and cajun fries were pretty good too!)

BC Oyster Po' Boy Top View

 

Thomas’ Ahi Tuna – Top View (a classic healthy Vancouver dish)

Ahi Tuna Top View

 

Change the Bread! 

All in all, very satisfying. I practically devoured it.

The only way the meal could be improved, in my humble ‘just-returned-from-the-birthplace-of-the-sandwich’ opinion, is if the Po’ Boy came in a bun a little more similar to New Orleans French Bread.

Obviously it can be a little hard to replicate a dish with the exact bread of the area, but here is the solution:

This article suggests Vietnamese Banh Mi style buns, since Vietnam also has that French influence in its cuisine. I’m sure there are plenty of Vietnamese bakeries that could supply this bread in Vancouver, and it would really elevate the dish.

Thomas’ Ahi Tuna (he enjoyed it!)

Ahi Tuna

 

New Orleans Cuisine – Where to next?

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit The Big Easy this year.

Such a memorable experience!

Although I already knew I liked the cuisine from the area (I’ve made this dish for guests before and I’ve used Cajun seasoning since forever), actually visiting the place opened my eyes to lots of new foodie experiences, including some I just didn’t get around to, like Turtle Soup.

I’ll most definitely be returning to the city sometime in the future, hopefully sooner than later. Meanwhile, I’ll attempt to relive my NOLA experience by following a few recipes from my newest souvenir cookbook, visiting Vancouver’s original New Orleans inspired restaurant Ouisi Bistro, and last but not least, sharing some more posts about my trip on this blog.

More to come!

 

 

The Greek by Anatoli

Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

It’s kind of funny when you realize something has come full circle in your life. 

Here I am sitting in an airport lounge, in 2018, intent on writing a blog post about my recent ‘Greek restaurant’ experience at The Greek by Anatoli.

I’m about to board a flight to New Orleans to attend a Public Relations conference, and I am more than a little amused by life’s circular patterns in this moment.

You see, my very first solo-travel adventure, which happened way back in 2005, also involved a Public Relations conference. And it was held in Athens, Greece.

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

                        Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

A trip down memory lane

I had wisely sandwiched that first trip with some days on either side of the conference, so that I could enjoy the city. Always do this if your schedule allows it!!*

Touring the historic ruins, visiting galleries, museums and churches, eating delicious Greek food, dodging the thousands of scooters, walking up and down steep hills…. it was a fun first solo trip. Some memorable foodie moments included:

  • My first ever meal in Athens – a heavenly Moussaka at a cute taverna located in some alley. Back in those pre-smart phone days, I would just wander about to find a place I liked.
  • A server drawing a bird’s nest on a paper table cloth to better explain a dessert to a mixed Polish/English speaking group I was hanging out with. None of us had ever eaten a dessert that resembled a toddler scribble before. So we ordered it, and it was the bomb! What was it? Kataifi and here’s a YouTube video on how to make it. 
  • Accepting a slice of spiced cake in a very old Orthodox Church by a very eager old woman, who was completely clad in black and kept grinning and nodding at me until I took a slice. Universal truth – all grandmas insist on feeding you. Homemade cake = yummy!

A Greek experience in Yaletown

So fast forward to 2018; I’m off to another PR conference, and while I won’t be eating Greek food in New Orleans (I’m doing Creole/ Cajun/ French all the way baby) – I did drop by The Greek by Anatoli just a few days ago. So here is what we ate & drank …

Cocktails

Cocktails:

Thomas and I always say we need to slow down on ordering so many drinks all the time… but then we eye up the menu and say ‘F*** It’.

Each and every time.

At least we took it easy and stopped at one each this time. Baby steps! I ordered the Athena Spritz and he got the Sangria.

Verdict: I like the glass mine came in – but I’m not crazy about the lemon wedge on the rim. I only want lemon wedges for my water. I think a better (and classier) garnish option would be a curled orange rind in the drink itself or a dehydrated round orange slice on the rim.

Souvlaki Platter

Food:

Food is served as it’s ready at this restaurant – so it’s best to share whatever you are having. I’ve seen some people complain online about their food not coming out all at once for an entire table of solo-eaters. Which is a little befuddling to me. Mezze/ Tapas style restaurants don’t work that way. It’s all about ‘sharing is caring’!

So that means mostly Gluten-Free options for us, which luckily this restaurant has plenty of.

We ordered the Grilled Mushrooms & Fava Beans Purée (which we’d had before and loved) and the Souvlaki Platter (something new and meant for sharing as it’s huge).

The food took a while to come out – the restaurant got slammed 15 mins after was arrived, but wow, the food was so delicious! Worth the wait.

Both dishes came out in pans, which I find very rustic and endearing. We scarfed down the lot.

Mushrooms & Fava Beans

 

Smoke – The Good & the Bad:

The food at The Greek has this distinctly charred taste to it that is so satisfying.

If you take a peek into the kitchen you’re guaranteed to see a plume of smoke rising from the grill, being sucked up by an industrial exhaust, that then proceeds to belch out said smoke onto the patio area of Mainland Street. Why is this?

Maybe I’m a little fussy, but I am a little surprised the city is so cool with this arrangement. If you’ve ever walked through the cloud of smoke during peak dinner time – you know what I mean. It’s overwhelming. Yet if I were to judge by the PHAT Sports Bar patio guests, drinking beers, watching Sports, inhaling smoke… most people don’t seem to mind.

So on that note – I don’t know that I would ever want to sit on the patio at this restaurant. Which is a shame because patio dining is a very short-lived, fought-for privilege in Vancouver. But I will continue to go there and sit indoors.

We already know what we are ordering for next time – the lamb!

Side Notes:

(*)  In fact, I am heading in early and leaving later for this year’s New Orleans trip. I do as I preach.

 Feature Image Credit: Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash