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

Edmonton food

Fish Straight from Japan: Takami Sushi

May 11, 2017

There never used to be many options for Japanese food in Edmonton but if the number of restaurants opening over the last few years is any indication, it seems like Edmonton has developed a taste for Japanese food.

Takami Sushi - # 108, 10430 61 Ave NW - Edmonton AB

Takami Sushi is the latest to join Edmonton's food scene, located on 61 Avenue just off of Calgary Trail. Taking up a space on the ground floor of a new development, the restaurant is easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.

The space is open with a modern, industrial feel - high ceilings and polished concrete floors are accented with orange and brown decor. The restaurant has two separate seating areas, one with smaller tables and a second with long banquette seating perfect for larger parties.

My first visit was for dinner with friends to celebrate my recent engagement to my fiance, and the ambiance of the restaurant was perfect. Our meal was off to a great start with an order of Beef Tataki ($14) garnished with red onion and wakame seaweed. The tataki was thinly-sliced, tender, and dressed with a tasty ponzu sauce. I prefer my beef tataki dressed well with toppings, so I felt the portion of onions and seaweed could have been more generous.

The menu at Takami feels smaller than most, as the priority is to showcase premium fish and ingredients from Japan. Red Seabream, Uni, and Bluefin Tuna are just some examples of the premium fish they fly in every Thursday, so I don't think I need to tell you which day to visit if you want a taste. Unfortunately we had dinner on a Wednesday night, so I definitely need to plan a return trip in the near future.

To give their regular selection of fish a try we ordered the 18 piece Deluxe Assorted Sashimi ($36). What came to the table was absolutely stunning - salmon, yellowtail, ami ebi, octopus, squid, and surf clam on a bed of ice, garnished with greens, flowers, and even dry ice. It was almost too beautiful to eat! Taking presentation and quality into account, the sashimi is quite reasonably priced at $2 per piece.

Takami's menu offers a selection of 8 maki rolls which are a nice option if you aren't a sashimi eater. We ordered four to add some variety to our meal, and first up was the TNT Roll ($17). With avocado, crab meat, shrimp tempura, garlic sauce, unagi sauce and hot sauce, the roll was substantial and flavourful all on its own.

Out next was the Rainbow Roll ($15), a standard maki roll with avocado, crab meat, and an assortment of fish. There was a fair portion of fish on each piece, but nothing special to write home about.

The Dynamite Roll ($15) caught my eye on the menu as it's different from the standard - Takami's version has chop chop scallop in addition to the usual combination of tempura shrimp, avocado, and cucumber. The scallop was fresh and the portion generous, giving the roll great value for what you get.

We rounded off our meal with the house specialty - the Fire Sake Roll ($17). The menu description makes the roll sound incredibly complicated, but the combination of ingredients really works. This roll has tempura shrimp and cucumber wrapped with torched salmon which is then topped with mayo, unagi sauce, green onion, tempura flakes, and a generous sprinkling of crisp deep-fried yam strings. This roll brings a bit of everything to the table - it's savoury, a little sweet, and packed with crunch.

It is also important to note that the wasabi served with every dish is ground in the restaurant. It's fresh and has a slightly different bite to it.

Given the quality and assortment of premium fish, Takami Sushi is a great option south of the river for those who enjoy fresh sushi and sashimi. Sushi Wasabi has been a go-to for us for years for quality fresh fish, and now Takami is a serious contender. Service was attentive during our visit, and our server was very knowledgeable about the fish and the menu. With the stunning presentation and quality of fish, we'll definitely be back to Takami sooner than later!

Takami Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclosure: I was invited to try a meal at Takami Sushi. 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.


Find Me on Facebook