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A daytime poké peddler on Kingly Street.
Weekday lunchtimes are a terrible trial, the burden of choice weighing heavy as the cross. On the one hand, all anyone really wants is a fat sandwich, but who’s got time for the afternoon carb lull? (And the pervading guilt – these are the dark days of clean eating after all.) A salad? Too worthy. Sushi? Good Lord! Too meagre unless you’ve an expense account.
Enter Island Poké, a Kingly Street spot hawking a speedy take on the increasingly ubiquitous raw fish salad bowls, Hawaiian in origin and here bastardised with Japanese and Californian embellishments. The tiny shop’s interior has a heavy South Pacific vibe, all pale wood and stock photos of beach scenes, with concessions to hipster nonsense in the form of swing seats in the window and profane R&B on the stereo. It’s all very serene.
The ‘concept’ replicates your average burrito-style conveyor-belt building system. Choose a base (brown or sushi rice, or salad), a fish, and then a host of toppings, dressings, sprinkles and so on until you’ve got a sizeable mound of food, crucially occupying the middle ground between Instagrammable delicateness and sriracha-splattered taste explosion.
There are a few standard house combinations. I went for a classic ‘ahi’ bowl, and very good it was too: decent sushi rice topped with marinated tuna shoyu, zingy pineapple chilli salsa and shredded wakame seaweed, embellished with nori and crispy shallots. A piquant dressing of Japanese seven spice, soy and ginger gives pungent high notes, while a liberal drizzle of sriracha mayo whacks you round the chops with soothing, spicy umami. It was excellent stuff and, for south of £8, brilliant value (my companion’s rather cleaner bowl of brown rice, tuna, edamame, ginger and sesame was equally good). Go on, give Pret a poké in the eye.
8 Kingly Street
|Transport:||Tube: Oxford Circus|
|Price:||Lunch for two with drinks: around £20|
|Do you own this business?|