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Poke Bowls: Let’s Dig In

Poke Bowls: Let’s Dig In

By Katie Spokely

A new food trend is making big waves in Fargo.

The Poke Bowl food truck rolled into downtown Fargo in July, and has quickly become a local favorite. Run by the team at Wasabi, a downtown Japanese eatery, the food truck is just the beginning for poke bowls in Fargo. Wasabi is moving into 123 Broadway, the former Metro Drug building, and will be showcasing a brand new build-your-own poke bowl bar.

Until then, the Poke Bowl food truck can frequently be found at 409 Broadway N in Fargo on Thursdays and Fridays for lunch at the Fargo Food Truck Park, and Saturdays for the Red River Market. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for hours. In addition to raising a lot of excitement, this new option can raise a lot of questions from potential customers. What exactly is it? From where does it originate? How do you say it? Let’s dig in.

How do you pronounce it?

While it is easy to read the word as pohk or POH-kee, the correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian word is pok-KEH, which means “pieces.” This refers to the diced pieces of fish included in the bowls.

What is in it?

Many describe poke bowls as deconstructed sushi, although the dish can have nearly endless variations. The Poke Bowl food truck’s options depend on the food in season, but the bowls always begin with Wasabi’s sushi grade rice, made with homemade rice vinegar, sake, sugar, and a variety of fruits. Currently, they top the rice with an Asian-style poke sauce, spicy mayo, edamame beans, avocado, seaweed salad, fish eggs, dried and shredded seaweed, spicy crab and one of their fresh fish poke options. These chunks of fish are raw and marinated. The food truck always offers ahi tuna, with a second option varying day by day. Recent menus have boasted salmon, cooked shrimp, and spicy tako (octopus).

Regardless of your seafood choice, the combination of ingredients creates a flavor profile that is sweet, savory, and fresh. If you are new to sushi, a poke bowl is a delicious way to be introduced.

From where does it originate?

As you might have guessed from the origins of the name, poke bowls were born in Hawaii. Mixtures using raw fish have been eaten in the country for centuries, although utilizing the word “poke” to describe them likely only began during the last century. Poke bowls are a go-to portable meal on the islands; they can be found everywhere from gas stations, to restaurants, to food stands. While the dish is traditionally Hawaiian, it has been the canvas for a variety of cultural spins. For example, the Poke Bowl food truck team includes many Japanese flavors in their bowl.

We were so thrilled by what we learned about poke bowls, we decided to talk to one of the minds behind the menu – TJ Edra, Executive Chef at Wasabi

TJ grew up in Hawaii and moved here in 2000 while in high school. He confirms poke is very popular in Hawaii. The fresh, marinated fish salad is available everywhere, and is usually eaten as an appetizer. You can buy it in grocery stores and corner markets like potato salad; a ton of different varieties, bought by the pint, half pint, etc. His father was a construction worker, and TJ’s memories of the food often include his father coming home with beer and poke from the market. Traditionally, it’s made with fresh ahi tuna, soy sauce, salt, seaweed, and sesame. Just like potato salad, though, everybody has their own recipe and has incorporated different flavors into it. He has enjoyed being able to bring traditional and new variations to the FM area, especially now that the food has developed into more of a meal in the form of poke bowls, with endless ingredient combinations.

What makes poke bowls so appealing?

Everything in the bowl is fresh; the flavors are great, and there’s something for everyone. The advantage of having all of the ingredients in a portable bowl is that it’s easy to eat on the go, and being able to pick out what’s in each bite makes it versatile and fun.

What made him decide to start the food truck?

TJ first brought poke to the Wasabi menu as an appetizer. He saw it grow in popularity there, which inspired him and business partners at Wasabi to introduce the Poke Bowl food truck. Owner Keng Dechawuth has been very involved in bringing new food options to Fargo. Between his vision and TJ’s culinary expertise, they’ve enjoyed watching the food truck grow in popularity each week. It’s also given TJ an opportunity to play with flavor variations. When he first started making it in Fargo, he made it in the traditional Hawaiian style. Since then, the bowls have mainly been influenced by Japanese cuisine. If you’re worried about getting bored, though, have no fear; TJ is excited to continue developing new versions. Just recently, for example, they started periodically offering spicy tako (octopus) as one of their poke options.

Finally, let’s get to the question we’ve all been waiting for: What is the chef’s favorite type of poke bowl?

To him, traditional can’t be beat: ahi tuna and soy sauce (often called shoyu sauce) is classic, fresh and delicious. Of course, he would recommend any of the options available at the food truck.

What’s his advice for those new to poke bowls? Simple. “Come and try it. The flavors are bright, colorful, and fresh.”

Keep an eye on Poke Bowl’s Facebook page for hours and locations.


Read more about poke bowls:


Want to be Wasabi’s neighbor at 123 Broadway? Retail space is available!

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