February 1, 2017

Big Fin Poké, Westbrook

I often complain about going to Westbrook, not for any particular reason other than Portland-centrism and that I always manage to get lost whenever I attempt to navigate to or through our neighboring city to the west. But add Big Fin Poké  to the small, but growing, list of things I'll happily (ok, begrudgingly) travel to Westbrook for. 

Poké, if you're not familiar, is best described as deconstructed sushi. It's a Hawaiian seafood salad made up of raw fish, seaweed, onions, and seasonings like ponzu, soy, or sesame oil. I will be annoying and tell you that I first had poké years ago from a grocery store deli in Maui. It was way better than poi, another traditional Hawaiian food, that I'm pretty sure you had to grow up eating to appreciate. 

But poké has arrived on the mainland (or at least on the upscale menus and glossy magazines of the mainland), riding the popularity of sushi, "clean eating," and food served in bowls. Here in Maine, we now have Big Fin Poké on Westbook's Main Street in a space with large windows, hardwood floors, and high ceilings. 

You can choose to make your own poké bowl or choose from selections of Big Fin favorites. I went with the Hawaiian Original, as making my own from the myriad options seemed overwhelming. I thought the tuna, green onion, sweet onion, chili flake, sesame oil, and seaweed sounded like a classic combination as an introduction to poké. I also said yes to toppings pickled ginger, sesame seeds, seaweed salad, jalapenos, and cilantro (see what I mean about overwhelming options??). 

Poké bowls come over rice in a regular size for $10.95 (or a large for $13.95). You can also order your fillings wrapped in sushi rice and a seaweed sheet as a "pokiritto." 

The poké was made with big, solid chunks of tuna and the whole bowl was a delightful experience in contrast: cool fish, warm rice; soft fish, crunchy onions and ginger. The seaweed was mild, if you're put off by overly sea-y (sea-ish?) flavors like I can be. It was a light but filling lunch that felt healthy but still indulgent.

On future visits I'll try yellowtail poké with pineapple and yuzu sauce or spicy tuna with cucumber and add some avocado. While it's not necessarily on the beaten path for many Portlanders, you should go out of your way to try poké for lunch or an early dinner.

Big Fin Poké is open 11am-8pm and 12-7pm Saturday and Sunday. They sell beer and wine too!