It's definitely the sleekest and chicest of Houston's poke crop, that's for sure. It's also the latest and, potentially, the greatest — well, that can only be determined by H-Town's locust cloud of poke-consuming masses, of course. Whatever the case, Seaside Poke, the newest restaurant specializing in raw fish bowls in town, is now open at 2118 Lamar in EaDo.
Crisp white tiled walls and exposed air ducts give this spot an industrial feel. I imagine the noise level, when the place is full, will be painful. But orchids, air plants on the tables, and a large, eye-catching mural of Seaside's mascot, a puffer fish, done up by the hundreds, covered with various colorful photography prints, tamp down the feeling of a cold ambience. it's quite welcoming, and so is the staff.
Actually, the staff is extremely friendly, greeting all customers with a smile and a hello and attentively helping with ordering. I was even offered a refill on my drink by an employee who was cleaning up, even though this is just a counter service restaurant where people, for the most part, serve themselves. That's pretty above and beyond, considering.
The menu here is composed of just a handful of signature bowls (for now anyway), with a traditional Hawaiian poke — tuna, shoyu, green onion — and even a baked crab bowl available. The emphasis here appears to be on build-your-own options. You know the drill. Pick your base, rice or greens (or, reportedly, yucca chips, though they weren't on offer this day), your protein, your toppings, your sauce and extras. You order at one end of the counter and pay at another.
Small bowls are $10 and large are $12. Austin's Maine Root soft drinks are featured on the fountain. Sadly, there's no iced tea.
We opted for the spicy tuna bowl, which is tossed in a creamy aioli with cucumber, sprouts, garlic and sesame seeds. It wasn't mind-blowing, but the shoyu salmon, a refreshing bowl with pops of sweet orange and tender bits of edamame, does bring something new to the poke competition in town — a vibrancy that's refreshing for hot-weather dining. We're definitely looking forward to more of the bowls that Seaside's chefs, Tai Nguyen and Vuthy "Tee" Srey (alums of Uchi and MF Sushi, respectively), have promised, which will max out at eight total.
The eatery also sells little bags of matcha Rice Krispies treats lined up by the counter that from afar look like bags of weed. The matcha does impart a pleasantly mild green tea flavor to the treats, and they're a great takeaway option to bring back to the office.
"Actually that's pretty good," the Press's own Craig Malisow said when he was offered one, and that guy doesn't like anything.
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Seaside Poke's grand opening is forthcoming sometime in the next few weeks.
Seaside Poke, 2118 Lamar, 346-319-4915
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.