Poke restaurants are simplifying authentic Japanese cuisine with the creation of poke bowls, which are convenient for customers living busy lifestyles. As a sushi and poke bowl lover, I ventured to three poke restaurants in the Sacramento area: AhiPoke in Arden, PokeNoke in Sacramento, and Fishology in Folsom to rank them based on price, variety, taste, customer service, freshness, and ambiance.
I arrived to each restaurant at a different time of day, so my overall dining experience was likely influenced by the time of day I visited the restaurant.
Walking up to the glass food counters of AhiPoki was slightly overwhelming. I ordered the regular bowl with two scoops of “protein”, or seafood. I picked my base to be sushi rice because of its sticky consistency.
Next, the protein area had several bins holding cubes of tuna, spicy tuna, shrimp, crab, salmon, scallops and yellowtail. Since I knew I could handle the taste of raw tuna and shrimp from sushi, I added spicy tuna and crab meat to the first layer of my poke bowl.
In the sauce section, I immediately chose the spicy house sauce along with masago, edamame, cucumber, seaweed salad, green onion, and furikake.
I sat down at a wooden table outside and peeled the lime green themed napkins from the lid of the bowl. The first bite combined the tastes of fresh vegetables and tangy sauces, the warm rice complimenting the fish and the furikake seasoning.
I was impressed with the overall cleanliness of the unoccupied tables and the friendly employees that didn’t shame customers who couldn’t correctly pronounce the names of the seasonings.
I spent $9.50 on the AhiPoki bowl and the dish tasted fresh and delicious. The line consisted of two people because the lunch crowd hadn’t yet arrived in the late morning of a weekday.
Walking through the heavy glass doors of Poke Noke in the University Village shopping center, I was amazed by the intricate mural on the wall on the right side of the building.
The design of this restaurant completely topped the design of AhiPoki because Poke Noke featured several modern wooden benches with metal accents in the outside patio.
This bowl, however, cost $12.50 for the relatively same amount of food as AhiPoke. The initial taste of the bowl was sensational, but I had to add Sriracha sauce for spice since they did not offer spicy tuna as one of the options in their protein section.
After a while, the fish started to taste bitter and the onions overpowered the flavor of the bowl since little aioli sauce was added to the mixture.
When arriving to the restaurant, I struggled to find a parking spot because most spaces were occupied by shoppers of nearby stores. Although only one person was in front of me in line, customer service was exceptionally slow and I almost regretted purchasing the bowl for $12.50 when I could have gone back to AhiPoke for a better bowl with a more affordable price.
The last poke restaurant I tried is called Fishology in Folsom. Similar to Poke Noke, there were severely limited options for protein, so I compensated for the loss of flavor by adding more vegetables than usual.
The scoops of seafood were the smaller in comparison to the other two restaurants, yet the price of the regular bowl with three small scoops was $11.95. Of all the bowls I tried, the Fishology bowl was the smallest and the second to most expensive.
I don’t think I would return to order another bowl at that restaurant because of the lack of variety and the bland environment of the facility. Even though the restaurant had just opened for the day when I went and the manager was training new employees to make the bowls, I was largely unimpressed with the lack of personalization and interior design of the restaurant.
The indoor tables looked cramped and clustered, and the chrome chairs clashed with the plain walls surrounding the restaurant.
In this evaluation of three restaurants, I am confidently concluding that the best restaurant for a tasty and reasonably affordable poke bowl is AhiPoke. The vast parking lot is accomodating for the movie theater and other restaurants and stores in the complex, so there will likely always be a spot to park in.
For the amount of food provided, AhiPoki has the most affordable bowls with a larger selection of protein scoops and a display of vegetables with freshness you can taste. The next time you crave a delectable sushi roll but don’t have time for restaurant dining, stop by AhiPoki and experience poke in its greatest form.