I don’t mean that it’s going anywhere: the owners have owned a successful San Francisco Japanese restaurant in the past, so they know what they’re doing: I just mean it’s craftily hidden behind a convenience store. Seriously, look at that picture. Does that look like the spot you’d pick up the tastiest bowl of Poke you’ve ever had?
No, it does not. But yes, it is.
Opened last week in the spot previously occupied by The Erotic Bakery at 45th and Sunnyside, the 45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar opened just last week. I stopped in this past Friday for lunch (thanks for the tip, Jen H!), and, after threading my way through the towers of candy bars and junk food, ordered myself a sushi burrito. A friend of the owner was behind the counter, though, and redirected me to the poke bowl.
Poke (pokē) is a Hawaiian-style sashimi salad with big chunks of raw fish tossed in a special Hawaiian dressing. And it’s good.
With the burrito, he told me, every bite is a good one, but it’s the same one. With the poke, you can construct different tastes with each bite: one fish, two fish, salad fish, eel fish.
I went for the three fish bowl: salmon, tuna and a $2 upgrade to the unagi. That’s my bowl at right, and it was fantastic: the fish was slightly warm, creamy and melted in my mouth, without any of the stringyness or resistance that you get with lower quality fish.
All their fish is delivered daily by a local distributor and is sustainably harvested, according to John Chung, the co-owner (that’s him next to Snoopy, below), and he opined that the convenience store façade was an accidental marketing genius ploy: by keeping the shop hidden, it gives it a “you’ve got to be in the know” allure.