Edmonton food

An #Unforgettabowl Party with Edo Japan [Recap & Giveaway]

June 19, 2017

If you've followed my blog for long enough you'll know that there is one type of food I love more than anything else. Morning, night, and any time in between I'm always on board to enjoy a bowl of noodles.

Meals in a bowl are picking up in popularity - they're quick to prepare, delicious, and usually nutritionally complete. Last month, Edo Japan rolled out some new bowl-centric menu items as their interpretation of the trend and they asked if I would be willing to host a party to learn about and taste some of the new items. One of the items was a noodle bowl, so of course I couldn't say no.


Shrimp Tempura Chop Chop Bowl

I gathered a bunch of friends together for a fun evening at Edo Japan's Windermere location. We've all had Edo Japan at some point or another (hello post-secondary years!), so we were all curious to see what the bowls would be like. Edo's two new items include the Noodlefull Bowl and Chop Chop Bowl. The Noodlefull bowls feature a bed of thin ramen-style noodles topped with a stir fry of fresh snow peas, broccoli, carrots, and red peppers. Each bowl is made to order with Edo's signature Teriyaki sauce and served with your choice of grilled chicken, beef, shrimp, or additional vegetables for a vegetarian option. The bowls were generously portioned, and the chewy egg noodles were a nice change from the usual yakisoba noodles Edo Japan is known for.


Beef Chop Chop Bowl

The Chop Chop Bowls on the other hand offer a choice of beef, chicken, or tempura shrimp layered on top white or brown rice and fresh raw vegetables. Each bowl is finished with their new savoury bulgogi sauce and garnished with green onions and sesame seeds. We all agreed that the name was a bit misleading as we all imagined seeing raw scallops in a rice bowl, but the Chop Chop Bowl was a great fresh option with the raw cucumber, carrots, and red peppers. The Chop Chop bowl is only around for a limited time, but I would actually love if it became a permanent menu item - it's healthy and the raw vegetables make the bowl feel light and fresh.


Beef Noodlefull Bowl

Of the two bowls we tried there was no real consensus of whether we enjoyed one bowl more than the other, but I personally feel that the Chop Chop bowl is a fresh, tasty option for when you don't feel like eating anything heavy on hot summer days. This is probably the only time I'll prefer rice over noodles, so you'll want to try the Chop Chop Bowl while it's still around! A big thank you to Edo Japan for helping me host an #Unforgettabowl party!

But of course I didn't forget about my readers - Edo Japan has kindly offered a $40 gift card to one of my readers to have an #unforgettabowl meal of their own with a friend (or two!). Head on over to my Instagram for all the giveaway details. Good luck!

*Disclosure: I was asked to host a social media party in conjunction with Edo Japan's new menu items. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Downtown

Oh Yes, Ono: 'Ono Poke Co.

June 02, 2017

Edmonton has been waiting a long time for Hawaiian poke. I've tried variations of the dish on menus, but none of them have been true to the Hawaiian classic. Just weeks after the opening of Edmonton's first poke spot comes 'Ono Poke Co., promising to bring authentic poke to the prairies.

'Ono Poke Co. - 10142 104 Street - Edmonton AB

In the Hawaiian language, "ono" means fish and "'ono" means delicious. It's a play on words, and either would be quite the fitting name for Edmonton's newest poke place if you ask me. 'Ono Poke Co. is slated to officially open to the public tomorrow (June 3rd), but I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek earlier this week with a group of friends.


Sous Chef Matt Lafleur, Executive Chef Lawrence Hui

In early May Chef Hui travelled to Ka'anapali Beach in Maui, spending a week learning from some of Ka'anapali's top chefs and immersing himself in Hawaiian culture. It was important that he understood the roots of Hawaiian cuisine so that he could rightfully present the food and honour the ingredients back home in Edmonton. Each chef he spent time with shared their stories around Hawaiian culture and traditions and shared their versions of traditional and modern poke. Chef Hui had drafted a menu for 'Ono Poke Co. prior to his trip, only to completely change it upon his return to reflect what he learned while in Hawaii.

If you've ever been to Hawaii you'll know that you can find poke almost anywhere. Whether it's at the local grocer, Costco, or at the back of a liquor store, every place has it's own take on poke since Hawaiian cuisine draws it's influence from a multitude of cultures. It's like a melting pot of cuisines - you can find Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, and Japanese flavours in many dishes, and Chef Hui is reflecting some of that influence in his menu.

'Ono's chef-driven menu will offer six different poke bowls, featuring Ahi Tuna, Atlantic Salmon, Albacore Tuna, braised pork, and a vegan/gluten free bowl using a variety of beets. Bowls are available in regular (6-8 oz. | $11.95-$14.95) and large (14 oz. | $13.95-$16.95) sizes and have the option to be built on a bed of furikake seasoned rice, seasoned quinoa, or a spring mix salad. Two special poke bowls will be on rotation daily, and there is also the option to pick up marinated poke (at a market price) or a variety of sides to go like housemade kimchi, japchae noodles, and taro chips. The proteins, slaws, and garnishes are sourced locally whenever possible, so it's nice to know that the poke is sustainable!

The first bowl we tried was the 'Ono Poke, this shop's namesake dish. The 'Ono Poke features chunks of ruby red Ahi Tuna mixed with shoyu, sesame oil, ginger, seaweed, and white onion, and then is topped with macadamia nuts, a sprinkle of Hawaiian salt, sea asparagus, green onion, and Asian slaw (red cabbage, daikon, carrot, cilantro). It's poke in one of it's simplest forms and it really is delicious. The tuna is cut into large chunks, is well marinated, and is a fair portion size. The slaw and macadamia nuts offer some freshness and crunch, while the strands of sea asparagus bring a hit of briny flavour from the sea.

Next up we tried Uncle Tom's Surf Poke, named after Executive Chef Tom Muromoto of the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel. Chef Muromoto used to be a pro-surfer and actually took Chef Hui out to surf one morning during his trip, so this bowl is aptly named. This poke features Ahi tuna mixed in a spicy tobiko aioli with white onion and topped with cucumber, edamame beans, green onion microgreens, sea asparagus, and wasabi crab chips for crunch. Hawaiian's love their mayo, but I appreciated that the aioli wasn't heavy and didn't overpower the natural flavour of the tuna. The tobiko gave the dish some additional flavour with each pop, while the cucumber and beans brought freshness and texture. And those crab chips? So addicting I could eat a whole bag.

Last but not least was Chef Hui's modern take on poke with the Prairie Luau. If you like something with a bit of heat, this one is for you! Gochujang braised pork is shredded and paired with a gochujang vinaigrette and garnished with Chinese black fungus mushroom strands, cucumber, white onion, housemade kimchi, green onion, and cilantro before getting a drizzle of Evoolution's Harissa olive oil. While the bowl isn't overly spicy, it sure packs a punch in flavour. If you're a sweet and spicy fan ask for a scoop of 'Ono's pineapple mango salsa on top - it brings the bowl to a whole new level.

While 'Ono has yet to open it's doors officially, I can confidently say that Edmonton has a lot to look forward to. The fish is fresh and appropriately seasoned, and the bowls well portioned and balanced. I'm definitely looking forward to return to try the other bowls on the menu and see what kind of specials 'Ono will come out with. Hawaiian style shaved ice is also in the works, but it will be a few weeks until it makes its debut, so stay tuned! Chef Hui has worked hard to bring an authentic taste of Hawaii to the prairies, and 'Ono Poke Co. will surely make his mentors in Ka'anapali proud.

'Ono Poke Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclosure: I was invited to a casual sneak peek at 'Ono Poke Co.. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Downtown

Making Waves: Splash Poke Opens in Edmonton

May 31, 2017

Poke, the traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad, is no doubt an up-and-coming food trend outside of the Hawaiian islands. Over the past year there have been variations of the dish on many restaurant menus, but now Edmonton finally has it's own dedicated poke place in the heart of the city.

Splash Poke - 10079 109 Street - Edmonton AB

Splash Poke opened it's doors last week on the main level of The Mayfair building on the corner of Jasper Avenue and 109 Street. If the hour long lineup around the building on opening day was any indication, I'd say Edmontonians have been waiting a long time for poke!

Poke (pronounced poh-kay) in its simplest form is fresh raw fish cut into cubes, lightly seasoned, and served on tender sushi rice. Traditional seasonings are heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine, where soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions and seaweed are predominantly used. Served as a meal it's healthy and delicious, so it's no wonder it's becoming so popular outside of Hawaii.

My fiance and I stopped by for lunch right before the doors opened at 11, and a small lineup of 5-6 people started to form right behind us. People want their poke! The space is decently sized with natural sunlight brightening up the space, with coral and teal tones providing a bit of cheerful colour.

There aren't really any instructions on how to order, but as a fast-casual dining spot the process is fairly self explanatory. Follow the signs above the counter to order a signature bowl, or customize your own with their variety of proteins, toppings, and sauces. Pricing is dependent on the protein portion size (single $9.95/ double $13.95/ triple scoop $15.95) and whether you choose to add premium toppings (Ahi Tuna +$1, Avocado +$1.50).

Off the 'Splash Favourites' menu Splash Poke offers four bowls: The Works, The Classic, The Tropical, and The Spicy. The favourites are only offered in the double size and no substitutions can be made. Gordon went with The Tropical bowl which featured salmon, scallop, splash aioli, cucumber, seaweed salad, crab mix, tobiko, pineapple, and mango, all topped off with crispy onions, panko, and additional aioli.

The bowl was beautiful with bright pops of colour and fresh fish, but I found it to be overdressed with aioli and with some competing flavours given the number of components. All mixed together the bowl felt quite heavy, and I was also a little disappointed to find masago instead of the promised tobiko on the menu. The double splash was decently sized, but we felt the portion of fish could have been more generous.

For myself I went with the build your own bowl option to customize a bowl to my liking. Building a custom bowl proved to be extremely difficult as the glass (acting as a sneeze guard) separating myself from the employees behind the counter was questionably tall. I found myself having to yell my order at the employees behind the glass separation - I couldn't hear them and they obviously couldn't hear me. Judging by the orders made after us, others had the same difficulty. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to order a custom bowl when the space is full of customers.

I ended up ordering ahi tuna with sweet onions, cucumber, green onion, seaweed, and jalapenos mixed with a combination of shoyu and spicy garlic sauce. I finished my bowl with tobiko (which again was actually masago), crispy garlic, nori, and sesame seeds, but unfortunately due to the difficulty in ordering my bowl was drizzled with splash aioli and sriracha aioli which I hadn't intended to order. The ahi tuna was fresh, and the sauces had enough flavour to add punch to the fresh ingredients. Without the addition of the aioli, this bowl would have been spot on for me.

As Edmonton's first dedicated poke restaurant, Splash Poke is paving the way for more spots to open in the city. Although the bowls aren't true to those you would find in Hawaii, it's great that Splash offers the ability to customize bowls. However, with customization comes longer wait times, as each bowl is built in an assembly line fashion and dependent on how well the communication is on each side of the counter. With some adjustments to the the glass partition and staff familiarity with ingredients, customers should be able to get in and out of the restaurant in no time.

I'm glad to see that poke has finally made its way to Edmonton, and can't wait to see what comes next!

Splash Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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