Poke Burrito goes for substance over style


Courtesy of author

Noah Grabianski, Staff Writer

Local frozen yogurt fans had to get their froyo fix elsewhere when the popular Deer Park Town Center location of Red Mango closed a couple years ago. However, the Town Center has begun to attract a new type of crowd – fans of Japanese food, with a new restaurant in Red Mango’s place: Poke Burrito, which opened only four months ago. My sister and I went to try it out earlier this week, and I’m glad to say that this might be a place worth visiting.

The instant laid back vibe is a pleasant shock to the system. My sister and I happened to enter just behind a couple, and so we were stuck in the tiny space left. The menu was shown on televisions above the kitchen, but the left television, which showed the main burrito/bowl options, was obscured by a wall that jutted out further than it should have. Because of this, we couldn’t decide what to order in time, which led to an awkward moment of silence between us and the cashier as we decided what to order.

Don’t let the name of the restaurant throw you off – there’s very little Mexican influence in Poke Burrito. The concept of the restaurant is that they have sushi, but with a twist. You can either get the ingredients of sushi in a bowl, sans seaweed and rice, or in a massive uncut sushi roll the size of a burrito. 

We both decided to build our own orders instead of getting a pre-made combination of ingredients. The first decision was whether we wanted a burrito or a bowl. If you wanted a burrito, you had to decide if you wanted seaweed (standard) or soy paper ($1.00 extra). For both you had to decide what rice you wanted. If you didn’t want rice, you could get mixed greens. There was no limit on the “ingredients” you wanted, which included vegetables, as well as mandarin oranges, ginger, jalapeño, and cilantro, among others. Then there was the choice of sauces. There was a wide variety of sauces, each one with a different level of sweetness, spiciness, or sourness. The proteins were similar, but after picking three, each additional one cost $1.95. Finally were the toppings, which varied from onion, wonton, to seaweed salad.

My sister ordered a bowl, which cost $11.15 in the end, and I ordered a burrito, which cost $15.93. They offered cucumber water and lemon water, which you got yourself out of slick square jugs into small cups. The lemon water was nice, and the lemon to water ratio was pretty much perfect, but the same cannot be said about the cucumber water, which was much too strong. The service was incredibly fast, and out food came out about three minutes after ordering. This speed may have been the result of a nearly empty restaurant, but it was quick nevertheless. 

After about three bites into my meal, it was pretty clear that sushi was not meant to be consumed in burrito form. It was about three inches in diameter, so you couldn’t get all of the ingredients in your mouth in one bite. Perhaps Poke Burrito could make the burrito smaller – I could have gotten most of the ingredients in my mouth if the diameter was two inches. The stickiness of the seaweed stuck to my lips as I tried to take a bite, which resulted in the seaweed ripping off of the rice right away. Along with that, the burrito came undone after about five bites, and so I eventually had to open it up and eat everything with a fork. But on the brighter side, the ingredients were definitely fresh. Everything was cooked very well, and it all came together wonderfully.

All in all, Poke Burrito was a nice experience for me and my sister. This new spot for a quick bite to eat with fresh, fulfilling food. It’s something of a testament to substance over style, but Poke Burrito could benefit by downsizing some of their menu items.