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Hooked Poke Bar

Hooked Poke Bar

I really like poke bowls. They’re about my favorite thing to eat these days – tasty, healthy, cheap, filling.

What’s not to like?

And because they’re super trendy, Vancouver is full of them right now. Our city can best be described as an easily-distracted but likable adolescent, always ready to try whatever culture is cool and secretly keeping what works while discarding what doesn’t. There’s even a couple of poke bowl places next to one another downtown on the corner of Nelson and Hornby, an echo of the street corner that had three different Starbucks at different points on the crossroad.

Of those two poke bowl places, one is pretty good while the other one is the best in the city.

Here’s the trick: there’s only so much you can do with sushi-grade fish on its own. There’s the cut and the quality, the freshness and texture. All of that is great at both places, but it’s not the fish on its own that makes the bowl but the combination of flavors with it.

While I was over in Hawaii getting married, I had a chance to walk around Honolulu and sample a host of different poke bowl places and they were pretty good. A little dry in terms of toppings, but they’re the original and it’s interesting to see where your food comes from.

It put me in mind of a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which you should go and see as soon as you can – it’s on Netflix, so it’s not hard to find. In it, they talk about the making of sushi and what goes into it. There’s a scene where the apprentice chefs reveal they spend ten years learning how to make rice.

And all of that brings us to a little place called Hooked.

It’s one of the two poke bowl places that are beside one another. The other is a store-space north, larger, and has better lighting and more options. Hooked is on the very northwest corner of Nelson and Hornby and they have the single best base of any poke bowl place I’ve ever heard of: green tea infused rice.

This is to say, one of the bases you can get for your meal is rice cooked with green tea instead of water, with more green tea added afterward. And, yes, this is still fast food, and no, it isn’t the art that Jiro dreams of, but it’s a small thing that makes an otherwise pretty decent place stand out. It’s a quiet little hole-in-the-wall that deserves more attention because they’ve mastered a base that makes everything better.

Hooked has other bases on offer, sure: brown rice, white rice, quinoa, mixed greens, glass noodles. They’re all pretty good, but you need to try that green tea rice. You need to. It is like oxygen, a revelation that might just change your life and will certainly change the way you look at poke bowls.

And this is not to disparage the rest of what they have on tap. I grab their citrus salmon whenever I’m there, because some unsung genius at their restaurant took the time to figure out how to perfectly blend spice and salmon into a wholly tasty combination that surprises me every time I eat it. I remember it being good, sure, I just never remember how good it is until I’ve got some of it in my mouth.

I’ve had their tuna, too, and twin dragon, and both are good. I’m not much for tofu or vegetables, but they also have those for anyone that wants them. A pretty decent selection of other fruits and veggies can also be added (I go for mango and cucumber, as both compliment the spice and heat of the citrus salmon perfectly).

Prices will run you about twenty bucks if you nab a drink, and they’re open from 11-9pm. They’re part of foodora and skipthedishes, so you can order them in if you want to and you can check out their menu by clicking here.

Good eats, y’all. Life is too short for shitty food.



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