A Bowl in a Park

A Bowl in a Park


A poke bowl on my desk

I blog a lot about sushi, a foodstuff that I have been infatuated with every since my first visit to Nobu in the 1990s. Recently, though, I have made a kind of horizontal move over to poke bowls—same concept (fresh, satiny and well-curated raw fish), only in a bowl with a lot of appealing mix-ins (rice, seaweed, crunchy stuff, edamame, etc.)

This summer, I have been making it to a fair number of poke bowl spots, which are proliferating around town as fast as pop-up speakeasies, another monster trend, but I digress. In my search for the quality poke bowl, I have come across both winners and wilters, places that are suspect as far as freshness, with limp vegetables, oversalted dressings and the like.

About two weeks ago, I walked down from our W. 45th Street offices to the Pokeworks on West 37th Street (there are currently three freestanding Pokeworks stores in Manhattan). I got there at around 12:30, to discover a wait line, with a rope barrier (just like in a club) delineating the line of hungry eaters. Considering this is Midtown, and there are places to pick up lunch every third or fourth storefront, I took this as a huge plus. Once inside, you can grab a menu and even a cup of water from the ice-cold water dispenser, while surveying what you might want. You can choose a bowl, a burrito or salad: I went straight for the bowl, brown rice please (the other starch option is quinoa). Then there are a slew of other choices, but all organized very well. Any add-ons that cost extra are noted—a third protein is extra, as is avocado as a mix-in—otherwise, you can pick as many items as you want from each list (crunch, toppings, etc.).

I tend to stay with a basic bowl of brown rice, ahi tuna and salmon, and a variety of mix-ins, such as dried seaweeds (yes, plural), cucumbers, scallions, crunchy onions. The Pokeworks classic dressing (a miso-ginger vinaigrette) is always my go-to, and the server always considerately asks if I want a light, medium or heavy hand with the dressing dosage.

Travelers, take note: after getting your bowl, head north four blocks to Bryant Park, where you can grab chairs and a table to eat, and enjoy the visuals, from the large lawn and the London plane trees to the black granite Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, a tribute to Shaw, an active social worker who lived in New York City in the late 1800s. And, of course, the never-ending parade of office workers on a break.

But I’ve regressed again. The bottom line: Pokeworks is a definite winner.





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