by Rhonda Dutton photos by Joey Stewart
Being a Texas gal with island roots, Poke runs in my veins (along with BBQ sauce and cream gravy, but that’s beside the point). Growing up spending summers in Maui, Poke was sold in the grocery stores and served as an appetizer at family gatherings. Now, as a food-loving adult, I enjoy how the custom poke bowl craze has given poke as personal a profile as burgers and pizza. However, the “Chipotle of raw fish” is not what Jon at TJ’s Seafood Market & Grill aimed to do with his take on the trendy dish. Jon traveled the Cali eaterways and determined that he wanted to provide a top-notch poke option to his “Best Seafood in Dallas” repertoire. And he nails it.
Now, I must say that I ate custom poke bowls almost weekly before my company moved our office away from my local poke joint. So I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to taste TJ’s new poke bowls at the place that also serves my favorite lobster roll. I will preface this by saying that I am not a food critic nor food reviewer, I am a food lover – so the following may read like a love story.
Jon served up three beautiful poke bowls, and I just wanted to sit and admire them with oohs and aahs, while everyone else was frantically snapping pics. I wanted to wax poetic with Jon about his creations, they are that beautiful. I wanted to know how he did it, how he edited down to these three flavor profiles and ingredients. But, not enough time, on to eating.
I started with the mildest of flavors (start mild, end strong, right?) which was the Sriracha Shrimp bowl ($14). The shrimp is cooked so that clients would have a non-raw option, and the shrimp just tastes so good. Creamy lava sauce, avocado, radicchio for crunch. This is a nice, mild dish – I believe I even saw thin slivers of Japanese cucumber. Nice. I would consider this more of a shrimp salad than a poke, but all the rules are gone, right?
The Classic Ahi Tuna bowl ($13) did have the most traditional flavor, one to which I am partial. Shoyu, sesame oil, avocado, and nori but with the addition of edamame. The ahi is not cut in too large of chunks, allowing for an even balance of sauce to fish. And I do love sauce.
The big surprise was the Citrus Ponzu Salmon ($12). I am a fan of salmon, but not a fan of fruit with meat and this bowl showcased succulent chili orange bits with the salmon. I kid you not when I say that I wanted to scrape all the leftovers of this dish into my clutch purse to bring home. It was the perfect combination of sweet and citrusy, savory, heat, and POW. That last part was the fried garlic. Just, WOW. I truly believe I am more beautiful after eating this dish.
Overall, I appreciate that Jon didn’t dilute his amazing seafood with a pile of rice or lettuce as other poke places do so often. He kept the focus on the poke, serving the bowls only with tender kale leaves. Even better for your biometric testing…
TJ’s poke bowls are only served at lunch, Monday through Friday, but dinner and brunch offer poke share apps. I urge you to get these in your belly as soon as you can – they improve LIFE.
Follow Rhonda Dutton on craveDFW and her personal Instagram where she enjoys many food adventures through photos.