Fresh seafood is abundant in California’s coastal towns. While in Monterey, we decided to try a more trendy variation of the seafood surplus, at the Poke Lab. It is a quaint, mostly take-out restaurant with minimal seating. Nestled between other downtown shops, this Highway 1 detour had a unique logo reminiscent of the table of elements you’d find in a chemistry book. Inside, we found a small Subway style bar with raw salmon, tuna, spicy tuna salad, edamame, bean sprouts, avocado, and more. The menu was straightforward: try one of three specialty bowls or customize your own. We chose the first specialty, “Poke Lab,” and also a customized dish.
For each bowl we selected a different base, one white rice and one mixed salad greens. The Poke Lab specialty bowl was transformed into our own desired masterpiece by adding a spicy sesame sauce, spicy mayo, fresh ginger, and any vegetable topping possible. The customized bowl was on the simpler side: just salmon, spicy tuna, a teriyaki mixed tuna (unique to this establishment), and few vegetables. We paired these bowls with miso soup, and a “Pressed Juicery Shot” made of lemon, ginger and cayenne.
This concept of building our own sushi bowl was slightly foreign to us, but we were impressed with this quick meal. Our fish was cool, fresh, and plentiful. The best part was that there was almost more fish than base ingredients: a rarity when consuming mainstream sushi rolls and nigiri. The abundance of toppings made it taste like you were choosing your own combination of sushi roll ingredients with each bite — an exciting and fulfilling dish! Matched with a reasonable price, this trendy meal was a lucky find.