Currently travelling London with street food collective, KERB, Eat Poke has seen a recent moment in the spotlight as one of the few places already serving the Hawaiian dish, Poke, to the capital. With Poke set to be a big food trend, Pret a Manger are even planning to bring a veggie version to your work lunches, you're going to want to try it soon.
Outside the Gherkin isn't the prettiest setting but streams of office workers lining up in uniform in front of a handful of street stalls is a nice sight, in an entrepreneurial way. There are only a few stalls as part of this KERB thanks to a large Ai Weiwei installation taking up the majority of the courtyard and they're busy.
KERB happens fairly regularly in different places around London. Sometimes outside the Gherkin, sometimes by West India Quay, sometimes by Kings Cross, and other times by Paddington. Sometimes they do festivals. It's good to check the website to be sure.
The queue for Eat Poke can take a little while, especially because these fishy lunch-time bowls have lots of bits. There's the fish (or tofu and shitake), the black rice, the wakame salad – carrot, raddish and seaweed, plus pickles on the top and furikaka seasoning – THEN you can have avocado and/or kimichi as well, for a little extra.
Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a Hawaiian raw fish dish, sometimes called a sushi salad. It's generally tuna or salmon marinaded in a soy sauce based dressing, and luckily, it can come in a bowl. Remember that this is the year of the bowl. That's what has been actually written.
Inside your (very trendy) bowl, the food is OK. The tuna was marinaded well, not too much, so the great fish felt like the main flavour. The kimchi I opted for on the side was spicy and lovely, adding a bit of extra tang to the salad around it. The black rice was disappointing, not working at all on its own but all right if mixed with the sriracha aioli on the side.
The bowl (the all important bowl) felt a bit small – the price tag added to that feeling. The tuna bowl is £7.50, with added kimchi it came to £8, a single bowl for £8 should either be astounding food or at the very least big enough that you're struggling to finish it. The salmon bowl starting at £6.50 is a bit better but you would still expect a fair amount of fish to justify that label.
If you decide to take a lunch break wander to try out the new dish, its cold nature usefully means it travels well. Travelling with it might even give some parts a bit more time to soak up other flavours, a little bit of that kimchi with every bite wouldn't be a bad idea.
NOTE: James Tennent ate at Eat Poke anonymously and paid for his own meal