Poke Bowl Cafe (PBC) is an eponymously named cafe in Fort Myers, FL that serves poke bowls. What are these you may ask and how do you pronounce it? Poke is like okay with a “p”. Also, traditionally, poke is raw tuna, octopus or other seafood that is seasoned with ingredients such as sea salt, seaweed and limu, algae indigenous to the Hawaiian islands where poke originated. Recently poke has been popularized in poke bowls.
This is a fast or fast/casual restaurant concept. Diners order multiple ingredients that may include poke from a front counter, and either are served their food at the point of ordering (fast food) or have their food brought to them after their order (fast casual).
PBC offers a number of poke combinations, depending on the number of proteins one orders.
At PBC, one is offered a myriad of options. There is a small, medium or large bowl that consists of one, two or three proteins, respectively. This consists of raw salmon, tuna, cooked shrimp or bay scallops or tofu. For the base of your poke bowl, you are offered brown or sushi rice, mixed greens, zucchini noodles (zucchini shredded like noodles then cooked) or soba, those wonderful thick, buckwheat Japanese noodles.
You then have a choice of toppings. There is an option of 4, 5 or 6 toppings based on the size of your poke bowl. Toppings include mayo, kani (krab stick), masago (capelin fish roe), avocado, edamame, carrot, seaweed salad, pineapple, radish, corn, kimchi, spicy cucumber and cucumber. Additional toppings are available at 50 cents each.
A choice of sauces is next that include house soy, creamy ginger soy, volcano (a spicy mayo), miso peanut sauce, sesame eel and cilantro sauce.
You are then asked if you would like a variety of garnishes which include peanuts, cashews, almonds, plantain chips or sweetened coconut.
Finally, you are offered a dusting on your poke bowl of furikake, a mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. This is something very different and is a brick in a wall of a tsunami of umami that is offered at PBC.
A number of beverages are also served. These include a few alcohol choices (beer and wine) in addition to soft drinks. Specialty beverages are also available.
Here is what my dining companion and I ended up with. I ordered a poke bowl with spicy tuna and salmon. The base was brown rice. Toppings were double masago, edamame, kimchi and seaweed salad. Sesami eel sauce and plantain chips sealed the deal.
My dining companion eschews raw seafood, and had cooked shrimp and scallops on zucchini noodles. Toppings included edamame, radish, seaweed salad, cucumber and shredded krab stick. Miso peanut sauce and a peanut topping finished the dish.
We also tried a couple of other restaurant snack offerings, the beef gyoza and the takoyaki.
The gyoza were excellent and terra incognita to me as they were baked rather than steamed or fried. Served with a soy green onion dip they were very good. Takoyaki was something I have never had, a puffed wheat flour ball (almost like pancakes) that had a piece of octopus inside and topped with a spicy mayonnaise sauce and bonito flakes. It was interesting and enjoyable.
The food at PBC is excellent and a breath of fresh air in the Southwest Florida dining scene. The food here can accommodate a variety of diets, from vegan to carnivore, is delicious and will not disappoint.
I want to go back just for a poke bowl foundation of soba noodles and more of the excellent toppings and sauces available. This establishment is a hidden gem in our local dining scene and is highly recommended. I cannot recommend PBC enough.