New Snacks on the Block: Poke Box

Photos by Meleah McKee and Laura Baker

Toronto’s hottest new food trend? Poke. Not sure what that is? We’ve got your back.

Traditionally, poke—pronounced poe-kay—is a Hawaiian appetizer consisting of raw fish topped with additions such as sesame oil, soy sauce and green onions. A multitude of poke restaurants have opened up in downtown Toronto over the past month, with no shortage of poke options right by Ryerson’s campus.

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Located south of campus at Yonge and Adelaide streets, The Poke Box’s bright and open interior offers a welcoming escape from a  rainy Tuesday. However, we’re surprised to see how small the restaurant is. On top of that, there are no virtually no chairs or stools inside. Instead, there is a small windowsill that people are using as a makeshift seat, as well as a thin, useless-looking table in the corner.

The restaurant offers a variety of different poke combinations, from a superfood box to a build-your-own station. Being typical broke students, we were worried about how much we’d be spending, but The Poke Box’s prices are reasonable. A small build-your-own box is $11.50, while a large box is $13.50. The size and price is comparable to Basil Box, though Basil Box’s portions are a little larger.

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We opt for the build-your-own box. With a base of sushi rice or zucchini noodles, this option also includes one protein, two special toppings like seaweed salad or mango chili, three mix-ins, one sauce, and a final topping like ginger or avocado. We order the poke of the day, which is sweet red heat salmon. We’re told that it’s the spiciest poke they have made so far, but the salmon is somewhat lacking in that. Though all of ingredients in the box taste fresh, they are slightly plain, and there seems to be something missing in the dish. Maybe if we’d chosen a different sauce it would be a better meal, but even then, we’re not sure it would make a huge difference. The best part of the box is the crunchy shallots recommended by a worker—the second dimension of texture is much needed in the box that is borderline bland.

All in all, the flavors are good, but not great. The prices are reasonable, but not unbeatable. The Poke Box offers no room for even a quick sit. Though the poke box was good and we appreciate the friendliness and helpful tips from the staff, but we hoped to find the best poke in Toronto at this first stop. Though we might come back, we have a feeling that we’re going to have to keep looking.