This month saw the opening of PokeMee, a new poke-based restaurant located on Hollister Avenue and just one block away from the Storke Rd. intersection. Accompanying the opening of the eatery is Sno-Crave, a boba and dessert tea house that is in the same building as PokeMee, just a few steps away from the poke.
PokeMee has had an aura of hype permeating the air around its name, with posts on the UCSB Free and For Sale page on Facebook announcing its triumphant opening and word-of-mouth bolstering its popularity among both poke lovers and adventurous eaters alike. Now that the hype has been quelled and the lines in front of the restaurant have dwindled, one question remains: is the poke served at PokeMee a vortex of eye-popping, hair-erecting bliss in the form of raw fish and rice, or is it a disappointingly mundane bowl of sadness and sorrow in poke form?
I’m glad to say the answer lies more towards the former description than the latter, though not by as much as one might think considering the price of each bowl. Before discussing the poke, the quality of the physical restaurant must be pointed out. When entering PokeMee, the environment is warm and hospitable; the workers all greet you with genuine smiles and strike up friendly conversation during the ordering process.
Though the employees at PokeMee are adorably nice, what really matters is the poke and whether it can quell your hunger for raw fish, rice and veggies. There are two options for sizes of poke, those being a regular bowl with three proteins and a large with five. The choices of items you can include in your poke bowl are impressive; customers can choose from five different bases (like white rice, brown rice, sushi rice or even tortilla chips), eight different “proteins” (including salmon, tuna, albacore, edamame and octopus) and four types of sauces (such as spicy mayo or miso sauce). Toppings include crab meat, seaweed, jalapeños and fish eggs.
The poke itself was a pleasant experience to indulge in. My large-bowl order included the popular sushi rice base with albacore tuna, shrimp and salmon mixed in with miso sauce and seaweed. The fish tasted cool and fresh, as if a toned man had hopped into the Mississippi River during a spicy, humid summer afternoon and caught the fish barehanded, swimming to shore with his prize and serving it to me at PokeMee. The sweet and sticky sushi rice complimented the fish greatly, with the poke acting as if it were sushi in bowl form. All of these factors, combined with the zestiness of the miso sauce and crunchiness of the seaweed, resulted in a bowl of poke that definitely satisfied my appetite.
This pleasant poke comes at a cost though. The large bowl I ordered, though delicious, certainly did not satisfy my appetite; when I finished my meal, my belly still groaned to me to provide it with more sustenance, a request I could not fulfill with an empty bowl. This is problematic considering the price of the bowls, with a regular being $10.50 and a large being $12.50. Though I wasn’t exactly starving after my meal and the helping served with each bowl appears to be enough for a single meal, the nature of eating light foods such as pieces of raw fish and rice and the relatively-high price of each bowl may deter some customers who are looking for a filling meal.
The sister-tea house Sno-Crave was also a fulfilling experience. The boba drinks and desserts provided here were definitely yummy for a good price, but similar options for similar prices can be found at establishments closer to the average college student, such as Hana Kitchen in Isla Vista. Sno-Crave compliments PokeMee well, but I wouldn’t recommend making the trip here just for the boba when more convenient options are available.
Overall, PokeMee got the job done in giving me a poke dish that tasted great. If you’re looking for a delectable poke dish that’s nearby, PokeMee has you covered. If you’re looking for a good meal that will fill your stomach-tank up, you might want to look elsewhere.