The newest food trend to grace your Instagram feed is now no further than a short walk across the street from your favorite high school. PokéLOVE is an exciting new lunch spot that offers a unique Palo Alto meal. PokéLOVE opened its first location this summer, located in place of what was formerly Cold Stone Creamery.
The latest addition to Town and Country’s slew of restaurants, PokéLOVE’s speedy service and wide range of choices makes it a great lunch option for all Palo Alto High School students. PokéLOVE is open from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. every day.
Poké (poke-ay) is a seasoned raw, fish chunk salad that has been a popular dish in Hawaii for several decades. Poké bowls — rice bowls served with poké in addition to other toppings and add-ins — have recently been gaining popularity everywhere. Restaurants selling bowls of fish, rice and other goodies have been popping up in multiple locations around the Bay, including one coming soon to the Stanford Shopping Center.
Owner Alex Chan opened PokéLOVE three months ago. The restaurant blends many other Asian cultures into a menu that boasts unique flavors and combinations that are intriguing for even the most veteran poké consumers.
The restaurant itself is decorated minimalistically. The white-tiled walls, simple dining tables and an abundance of natural lighting make for a clean and open ambiance for either indoor or outdoor dining.
PokéLOVE is also the first restaurant in Town and Country to serve boba drinks, which are very popular among Paly students.
Though a menu of pre-styled bowls is offered, one of the main attractions of the new poké shop is that customers can create their own bowls based on their personal preferences. PokéLOVE calls this feature Build Your Own Bowl.
Similar to many other restaurant chains, PokéLOVE works in an assembly line fashion. The perfect bowl is constructed right before your eyes as you choose which base, proteins, mix-ins, dressings and toppings go into your meal. There is also a student special for $8.95 that includes rice, chicken and various add-ons.
Step one of “Build Your Own Bowl” is picking the base of the dish. Diners are given options that range from classic sushi rice or noodles to to quinoa and salad for those who have no-carb or paleo diets.
Step two involves picking the proteins for the bowl. Customers are allowed to pick up to three proteins for the regular bowl ($10.95) and five proteins for the large bowl ($13.95). The protein section has a wide range of meats and seafood, including seasoned tuna and salmon and more obscure proteins such as shrimp, chicken, eel and even tofu.
Though poké is traditionally served raw, PokéLOVE offers to bake salmon protein free of charge.
In step three of picking the perfect poké platter, various beans and vegetables, which PokéLOVE dubs “mix-ins,” can be added.
Step four consists of dressing the poké bowl with one of the many homemade sauces the shop has to offer. The flavors range in spiciness from mild to “bring on the heat,” which will satisfy a variety of customers with varying tolerances for spices.
The fifth step of a personalized bowl is choosing toppings. Future diners should be wary of this step because in it lies much room for error. Though it may seem tempting to just add the avocado or the crab mix, think first of how they will mix with the other ingredients in your bowl, and weigh the options.
Additionally, while avocado may seem like a no-brainer addition to one’s meal, take note of how it tastes with sushi rice instead of Mexican rice, and in a bowl of raw fish instead of rolled in a tortilla.
Diners must also be aware of the massive dollops of toppings that will inevitably be added to their bowl, so they should be confident about their topping choice before committing to a bowl.
Though the bowls are unique and tasty, the prices are slightly higher than expected. PokéLOVE markets their regular bowl at $10.95 and their large bowl at $13.95. However, both of the bowls ordered cost $13.54 for a regular size. This price increase can be attributed to extra toppings added, but PokéLOVE does not do a good job of making add-on prices clear to their customers.
Despite the higher prices, the service was friendly and accommodating. The waitstaff answers all questions and gives recommendations for toppings and proteins. Additionally, the service was very efficient.
The poké is fresh and delicious and the different add-ons and sauces, coupled with the Asian fusion style in the menu, creates a gratifying overall experience that makes customers return often to try the many different choices that the shop has to offer.
All in all, PokéLOVE is a welcome addition to Town and Country and Palo Alto. The restaurant offers a type of food that is not yet found anywhere else near Paly.
Despite its slightly confusing pricing, PokéLOVE, with its wide range of options and speedy service, is destined to be a lunch spot frequented by many Paly lunch-goers who are looking for a satisfying and delectable meal any time of day.