Franchised fast-food, which I can live with!
13 stores and counting, the Fishbowl Empire is growing! And today after walking around and realising that all the Little Hay St restaurants were already packed-out on this Saturday lunch-hour, we returned back to The Exchange ‘Makers Dozen’ food hall and tried our 2nd of 12 tasty offerings!
I’ve made Poke at home and I’ve tried Poke in the States, but this was my first go-around with commercial Poke in Sydney! Located in the GL hodgepodge of The Exchange, Fishbowl makes it too easy for customers to have a fresh healthy feed.
You basically have 2 choices to make here, choose a base e.g. brown rice with cabbage, or brown rice alone, or cabbage alone, or sushi rice, or glass noodles. Once you’ve decided on your base (we both chose brown rice with cabbage) you choose a topping. Or alternatively you can make your own, but then you’ll have to make many, many choices! Too hard!
There are at least 10+ topping options to choose from, from raw fish to cooked chicken, from tofu to roasted eggplants for the vegos. and I chose The O.G. ($12.90), while my wife chose the Meru Miso Eggplant ($14.90). And once you’re orders are made, you can grab a table just out front of their store (only one of a few stores in the Makers Dozen who have their own seating for their customers).
And as we bopped along to the centralised PA music (at this time it was tracks from Justin Timberlake’s Justified) our number was called and you jump up and grab your disposable bowls and disposable chopsticks or fork.
My ‘bad boy’ contained salmon sashimi, shallots, kale, beets, red onion and edamame with roasted sesame dressing, seaweed salad, tobiko and crispy shallots.
Every forkful I was scooping up something different, and everything was super fresh, tasty and contained various levels of crunch- a textural delight! The stand-out from all the different flavours and textures for me was the seaweed!
My wife’s Meru Miso Eggplant contained- Miso roasted eggplant, tofu, kale, red onion, edamame, shallots and radish with lemon and spicy shoyu dressing, crispy shallots and ginger.
Her dish was a sweeter combination, with an entire roasted eggplant taking centre stage in her bowl! And after swopping forkfuls and then bowls, we both agreed that The O.G. was the original and the best in this head-to-head comparison. The slight knocks on her bowl was that there was too much ginger, so much so that we picked most of it out, and raw radish for me wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed.
Our end verdict? 4.5 Stars from 5! (2.5 Stars from 3 for Food (each element was super fresh and there were so many elements in the bowl, making each bite interesting); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (limited interaction with staff but they were friendly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although someone was actually manning the centralised music e.g. changing songs mid-way through a track and turning the volume up and then down, but in the end this was out of the control of Fishbowl and top-marks still have to go to the Makers Dozen as it’s such a cool new space!); and 1.0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (for such a classy food court like Makers Dozen you’d expect to be paying a bit of a premium price, but Fishbowl prices are still priced the same as their other outlets so that’s a thumbs-up from us!)).
In the end, Poke isn’t a difficult dish to make or master, basically it’s a matter of just getting fresh produce, chopping everything finely and mixing it all together- you can very easily make it at home! But it’s the effort, buying so many different ingredients, especially when you only need to use a pinch here, or a small handful there. A lot of effort for 2 people when it comes down to it. So you can def justify to yourself for buying Poke when you’re out! Let someone else do the fiddly stuff! First time customer of Poke in Sydney and my first experience of the Fishbowl brand- and I’m sold! I’ll definitely be coming back in the near future for more tasty Poke! Mmmmmm.
Fishbowl- Saturday 24 August (4.5 Stars)
Makers Dozen Food Hall, the Exchange Building, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket
Mon-Sun 11am – 9pm