The Hawaiian raw seafood salad known as poke (pronounced pokay) has become very popular in Seattle, where those in the know directed us to 45th Street Stop N Shop for what connoisseurs consider to be the best. At first glance, 45th Street Stop N Shop does not look like a place to eat. In fact, it is a corner convenience store where shelves are loaded with chips, cookies, and other packaged products. But beyond the groceries is an order counter, and beyond the counter is a small kitchen where poke is assembled into bowls, burritos, and pockets.
When choosing a bowl, you can get 1, 2, or 3 proteins from a list that includes tuna, salmon, izumidai (tilapia), unagi (eel), shrimp, and tofu. Each is available regular or spicy, and all come as part of an effulgent salad bouquet that also includes rice, crab salad, seaweed salad, edamame, pickled ginger, lettuce, and masago (those tiny orange fish eggs).
It’s a beautiful, bountiful presentation, the tuna, eel, and salmon ocean-sweet and indubitably fresh, as impeccable as expense-account sushi.
45th Street Stop N Shop is all the more likeable for its breezy, casual air. The staff with whom we interacted were hospitable and happy. Service is lightning-fast (once you get to the head of the line), and it’s the customer’s job to pick up the meal when it’s ready. Dining facilities consist of a few indoor tables and a row of seats out on the sidewalk.