Photo by Rachel Ayotte

Local Business Spotlight: Spinfish Poke House

January 25, 2018
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By Hungry Hungry Harris

With January being the “new year, new me” month I decided to jump on that bandwagon. But it isn’t for something I’m going to give up in a few weeks, like going to the gym or being a nice person.  I want to venture out and try foods that are outside of my healthy diet of burgers, tacos, and wings.  Although Poke may not be different for many of you, the colorful bowls of sushi grade fish over a bed of noodles, rice or salad isn’t in my weekly food rotation.  That will definitely change after my visit to Spinfish Poke House in Culver City. When it comes to seafood I’m pretty picky.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of it outside of a Puerto Escondido fish ceviche tostada.  In college, I discovered sushi, albeit cheap sushi but I fell in love with it.  Not only did I find it delicious but I found that I would crave the texture of the fish and the snap of the seaweed.  At the time I thought there was nothing else like it, well lo and behold the mighty Poke Bowl.  Like sushi, Poke Bowls also satisfy that desired mouth feel.  The soft but not mushy feel of cubed fresh fish sitting on a bed of sticky white rice or cold noodles definitely does the job and then some because I get a whole freaking bowl of it!

 

Upon entering the Spinfish Poke House off of Main Street in beautiful Downtown Culver City I was greeted by their Head of Marketing, Russell.  The restaurant itself looks like a clean room, as everything is white from the walls and counters to the white light beaming from the ceiling.  If I didn’t know it was an actual Poke House I would have thought they were making microchips in there.  The ordering process is something you would find at a sandwich counter. You can create your own bowl with your choice of fish; you can choose from Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Albacore, Hamachi, Spicy Tuna, Shrimp, Scallop and even Tofu for you “fish are friends, not food” customers.  Next, you can choose the bed on which your fish will lay upon; you can choose from white rice, brown rice, noodles, mixed greens, and chips.  If you’re like me and want to eat the way the chef intended it to be eaten, they do have nine signature bowls to select from. After some small talk, Russell showed me to my table where a small sample of each signature bowl was waiting for me, each one topped with its own sauce and toppings. Most of the samples were served with Ahi Tuna. Like their tagline states, they do pay homage to the OG Hawaiian bowl, the Aloha 808 Bowl is as close as you’re going to get without hopping on Hawaiian Airlines and getting lei’d in the terminal.  From there, Spinfish adds their own flavors.  They have a Coco Loco bowl that includes chili-lime, coconut flakes, cucumber, cilantro, citrus zest and sweet onion.  The Sweet Heat Bowl is topped with sweet chili, crispy onion, masago, green onion and sweet onion.  If I was going to compare the flavor to anything else it would be Chamoy.  My Latin readers are probably familiar with Chamoy as it is used as a topping for fruit, Micheladas or an order of Tostilocos at your local swap meet.  For those of you missing out, Chamoy is a salty, sweet and spiced sauce or paste.  Another unique take on the Poke Bowl is their Caribbean Bowl, topped with pineapple-mango salsa. After trying all of the samples I narrowed it down to three favorites to get full servings of.  Honestly, I could have ordered a full serving of each one but I didn’t want them to think I was a fatty.  Three is a good number.  I chose the Banzai, Furikake and So Fraiche (pronounced – So Fresh) Bowls.

Banzai Bowl

 

The Banzai Bowl has a very refreshing flavor and reminds you of eating on a patio in the middle of an LA summer.  The Banzai is topped with ponzu, cucumber, citrus zest and green onion.  I ordered this bowl over mixed greens.  The ponzu, with its tart flavor, totally reminded me of vinaigrette dressing so setting this bowl over mixed greens was a no-brainer.  Being that I don’t eat too many salads, I’m going to go out on a limb and call this one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.  Looking down at the bowl you cannot help but admire the beautiful colors.  You take the red fish with its perfect marbling and set that on a green leafy backdrop, not only is pretty but healthy.

Furikake Bowl

 

After my salad appetizer next on the docket was the Furikake Bowl which closely resembled the flavors and textures that you get with sushi.  The Furikake Bowl is topped with sweet shoyu, furikake, masago, cilantro, and onion.  The ingredients sound fancy but honestly, I had no idea what they actually were.  Shoyu is a soy sauce made from soya beans that have gone through a fermentation process, so essentially Sweet Shoyu is a sweet soy sauce.  Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning consisting of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, and salt.  Masago are the eggs of a small fish known as a capelin, which is a member of the salmon family.  Now that the lesson is out of the way, let me tell you how delicious it is.  Again it totally reminded me of sushi, so serving this over white rice was an even easier decision than throwing the Banzai over a salad.  After taking my sample bite one of my notes was actually, “This would go great over white rice.”  The Furikake takes the sweetness from the Shoyu and the saltiness from the Furikake and combines them to blow out your taste buds.  The rice definitely absorbs the extra flavor so there isn’t a dull bite during the whole experience.  Like I said about the Banzai Bowl, the bowl itself looks absolutely beautiful.  The fish on all three bowls was extremely fresh, had the perfect red color and marbling.  Looking down at your bowl, you see the deep red fish with a healthy topping of green onion and a bright orange dollop of Masago adding a hint of color.  The Furikake is literally sushi in a bowl; the only thing missing was the Nori, which is also served on request.

So Fraiche Bowl

 

Now for my favorite bowl, which was a huge surprise to Russell and the awesome folks working the counter was the So Fraishe Bowl.  Before taking the sample bite, Russell warned me that this one was a hit or miss; people either hate it or love.  The So Fraiche looks a lot different than the other bowls as it topped with a wasabi crème, cilantro, citrus zest, panko and sweet onion.  I’m sure when people see Wasabi they are automatically turned off by it because of the intense nasal burn usually associated with it.  Fear not, as this crème provides the intense wasabi flavor without the delayed chemical burn.  After taking my bite, the flavor took over my mouth and I prepared for the burn but it never came.  Although most of the signature bowls are topped with thin sauces the wasabi crème isn’t particularly heavy at all.  It coats the fish and in this case noodles perfectly.  Like the Furikake, every bite was consistently delicious.  The sweet onions were chopped bigger in this bowl and added a nice crunch to every bite.  So basically all I’m saying is don’t be put off by the wasabi, the So Fraiche is actually intensely delicious. Spinfish Poke House is definitely being added to my takeout food rotation as it walks that fine line of delicious and health conscious.  I know I’m late to the Poke game but I’m glad I even showed up at all.  The flavors and textures are something that I crave constantly so knowing I have a legit spot in my backyard is comforting.  Along with the great Poke Bowls, Spinfish is slowly adding new items to the menu like Spam or Avocado Musubi.  Musubi could replace the normal everyday sandwich as we know it. I’m calling it now!  As for beverages, they offer Milk Tea, Thai Tea and a very fragrant and delicious green tea.  I want to thank everyone at Spinfish Poke House Culver City for their hospitality and generosity.  You folks showed me a great time and I thank you. Cheers! Spinfish Poke House, 3847 Main St., Culver City, CA 90232