Poke is the trend that keeps on trending in Pierce County.
Four poke bowl restaurants have opened in the Tacoma area since last November. (See list at end of story).
Lakewood is the latest to get its own choose-your-own-poke adventure.
I C Poke opened Aug. 22 in the Lakewood Towne Center, and it’s next door to another Hawaiian-themed restaurant, the national chain L & L Hawaiian Barbecue.
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The fast-casual restaurant has an order-at-the-counter protocol much like a Chipotle or Subway. Pick from a list of bowls with pre-selected ingredients or build a bowl from a list of raw or cooked fish and a variety of add-ins.
Here’s a first-bite report. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
The owner: This is the third poke restaurant for David Chen, who owns a poke restaurant with the same name in Redmond. He also owns Poke Makana in Sherwood, Oregon, and has operated a buffet restaurant. The Lakewood manager is April Han.
The dining room: Surf-themed decor in a light-and-bright space with concrete floors and well-spaced tables. Seating for about 35 spread among seven tables (one is a two-top, the rest seat four). An 8-seat communal high-top table near the front door. The order line is at the back of the restaurant. Start there.
Kids? A fully cooked kids meal bowl is $5.99 with chicken, rice and vegetables.
That menu: Choose from five specialty bowls with pre-selected ingredients ($10.99 to $12.99). There’s also a custom option where diners can pick two fish choices for a regular bowl ($10.99) or three fish choices for a large bowl ($12.99).
Raw/cooked choices: Raw fish choices include ahi tuna, salmon and albacore tuna. For fans of eating fully-cooked food, there’s chicken, tofu, octopus, shrimp and unagi (eel).
Add layers: Choose from a base of white rice, brown rice or salad. Next, pick vegetables. There’s cucumber, onions, edamame, corn, cilantro and jalapeno. There’s also pineapple and mango. Toppers include masago (fish eggs), wasabi tobiko (more fish eggs), seaweed salad, krab (that’s the fake stuff) salad, pickled ginger and radish. Avocado is $1 extra. Sauces include poke sauce, a house sauce, classic sauce, spicy sauce and ponzu.
Burrito-ize it: Turn any of the specialty bowls or build-your-own option into a burrito made with a nori seaweed wrapper. Prices are the same as a bowl.
Try these bowls: On a first visit, the classic ahi tuna poke bowl is a great place to start, as is the salmon bowl.
The classic bowl started with a layer of warm white rice topped with jiggly cubes of raw fish — served very cold — mixed in a bowl with the classic sauce (a tangy soy) with green and red onion. The rice-and-fish bowl was topped with krab (surimi) salad, edamame and seaweed salad.
White rice is a good base for the salmon bowl, which comes with chilled, cubed salmon tossed with ponzu (a tart citrus soy sauce), red onions and fresh cilantro. A fan of perfectly ripe avocado topped the bowl alongside cubed mango.
Coming next to Lakewood Towne Center: Chain restaurants Chipotle and Mod Pizza (Seattle based) are opening near I C Poke.
FIND MORE POKE BOWLS
Trapurito’s opened its poke bowl and sushi burrito restaurant in November in Bonney Lake (Trapurito’s, 20649 state Route 410 E., Bonney Lake; 253-750-3789; trapuritos.com).
Aloha Poke and Shaved Ice opened in April in Fircrest (2013 Mildred St. W., Fircrest; 253-565-2393; facebook.com/alohapokeshavedice).
Seattle-based Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max opened a Tacoma outpost in May with poke bowls, poke nachos, salads and Hawaiian plate lunches (1716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-4099; samchoyspoke.com).
Sushi and teriyaki restaurant Happy Teriyaki #4 has been serving poke bowls and sushi burritos since 2016 (2223 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-1544; thehappyteriyaki.com).
Sixth Avenue’s Da Tiki Hut, the best classic Hawaiian restaurant in the area, has two poke dishes (4427 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-625-7690).
I C Poke
Where: 10417 Gravelly Lake Drive, Lakewood; 253-584-8111; icpoke.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.