Tales from the Quarantine: The Poke Box! I Choose You!



Cyrus Fiori rates Poke Box six out of 10 spoons 

Hey Food Fans,

Long time no eat! I hope you are all doing well amidst this uncertain epoch of contagion. I have firsthand proof that my readers are the most resilient and capable on the planet, so I have no doubt that you will rise to the occasion. I will admit, the new normal has provided a challenge in the way of creating and executing restaurant reviews. In my heart, I feel a twinge of sorrow for all the restaurants which I will be unable to truly experience. My stomach rumbles the lonely growl of a gastric wolf denied the opportunity to devour. 

Fear not, treasured Food Fans! I am here with my ‘Tales from the Quarantine’ series to slake your restaurant review thirst. My fork is your fork and my spoon is your spoon, because, my readers, you are the sustenance that keeps me going. I made a vow long ago to sacrifice my taste buds for the good of the people. There may come a day when the strength of my resolve fails, but today is not that day. 

Without further ado, please enjoy the first Tale from the Quarantine.

Takeout has never been my jam. It has never even been my jelly. The cold and ruthless world in which hospitality is sacrificed for convenience has always sent a chill down my spine. During this pandemic, the one thing I have craved more than any mysterious mouth adventure, has been the arm’s length companionship of the establishment. In this waiterless wasteland, I searched online for delicious delivery. I also searched within myself for the courage to accept it.

While scouring UberEats, I settled on The Poke Box, a poke bowl specialty restaurant, located on King St. in the land of Laurier. My order was simple: the Big Umami bowl for $15.40. My order’s chauffeur was unimpressed with this price and asked me to cough up an additional Service Fee ($1.54) and Delivery Fee ($2.99), in addition to the usual tax and tip. As the cost waxed, my pocketbook waned.

Much to my dismay, this chauffeur then got lost in traffic, which more than doubled the usual wait time. Luckily, this poke bowl was designed to be served cool, so the entropy of the universe could starve for all I cared. My Big Umami bowl arrived neatly on my doorstep in a recyclable paper container with a plastic lid, veiled in a clear plastic bag.

On first blush, I thought that the “Big” in Big Umami may have been a slight exaggeration. However, when I gathered my prize from my doorstep, it became clear that the bowl did have a certain satisfying heft to it.

The contents were all as promised and fit well in style with the dish’s Hawaiian roots. With a clear lean towards deconstructed sushi, the bowl proudly displayed its wares: ahi tuna and salmon sashimi chunks, seaweed salad, sweet onion, and an unsliced portion of avocado the size of Mario Batali’s crocs. This was all served on a bounty of sushi rice and topped with a blizzard of shoyu, tempura bits, furikake, and mayonnaise. 

I mixed my bowl (with chopsticks, of course, like the cultured reviewer that I am) and dived in. The overall experience was pleasant and slightly sweet, but with little variation in flavour and texture. Each bite transported me to the Pacific, where humpback whales twirled in an artful ballet, threatening to smother my senses with their overwhelming monotone bulk.

This dance, while majestic, was a cry for help. Despite possessing a diversity in sea life that Sir David Attenborough would have been proud of, the dish failed to achieve any sort of intellectual flavour variation. It screamed for acid to offset the rich palate pummeling and provide some lightness. In the texture department, the dish’s saving grace was its tempura bits, which provided crunch in relief to the epic expanse of soft laid before me.

The portion proved to be well calibrated as just when I thought I could take no more, the food had all but vanished.

Overall, the food was satisfying, filling and convenient, while cramming for midterms. A monotone flavour profile held the dish back from reaching its true potential. The price seemed fair for the amount and variation of the components presented. While I did not appreciate the harsh reality of the delivery’s unsustainable impact on my wallet, I must express how thankful I am for the essential food workers and their commitment to service during this challenging period.

Until next time, 

Stay hungry Food Fans!


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