With Seattle University’s central location between the International District and many locales of Capitol Hill, students have a variety of choices when they venture beyond our on-campus eateries. Represented in our immediate area are foods from a wide range of cuisines, a few being Indian, Vietnamese and Mexican. What was not among them though was the food of Hawaii…until now.
Since August, Seattle has received not one, but two poke restaurants, both easily accessible from campus. These two new options for the popular dish from Hawaii offer very different menu selections and overall dining experiences, and are worth experiencing in their own right.
The newer and closer of these restaurants is Wanderfish Poke, located on Broadway across from Seattle Central College. It offers a wide variety of options, both in terms of the fish available in their signature bowls, as well as the toppings that compliment them. Wanderfish’s menu allows customers to either order one of their pre-designed bowls or create their own with their choice of rice, protein and vegetables, as well as sauces and seasonings. Occupying the same space as the former Refresh Frozen Desserts and Expresso, Wanderfish is a small but homey locale with interesting décor and a relaxing atmosphere. The staff, which has some of our very own Seattle U students, was very helpful in describing the multitude of ingredients with which one could create their poke bowls, and also provided their own suggestions on what to add. Wanderfish delivers on its value statement of combining sustainable fish and local produce in a way that is tailored to the customer’s preferences and allows for a unique bowl for each visit.
“I thought it was pretty good considering other poke that I’ve had didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s a little on the expensive side but when you’re craving poke, it’s totally worth it,” said Mari Onoye, junior International Business major in reference to Wanderfish.
The other of these recently- emerged poke establishments is Coffee Tree & Poke, located on First Hill. Where Wanderfish holds poke as the center of its menu, Coffee Tree and Poke, as the name would suggest, feels like a café first and a poke restaurant second. This difference in priorities is not reflected in their dishes, but rather their menu. In other words, the difference between these two restaurants lies less in the quality of their fish and more in their variety and room for choices when ordering. Coffee Tree does not have the option to build your own bowls, but their menu does have other choices that give them a leg up on other poke establishments. Coffee Tree and Poke very much embodies its identity as a café, and as such, serves a wide variety of beverages, including coffee, expresso and perhaps most importantly, milk tea. In contrast to Wanderfish, which had only a handful of bottled drinks, Coffee Tree had a full menu dedicated to hot and cold beverages, freshly prepared along with your meal. Another strength in the options it provides are its breakfast foods and pastries, which make it a good place to visit outside of lunch and dinner.
“The quality of the fish is pretty solid; I paid like $12 and I would say it equals what it’s worth. However, I would not bother with going out as a weekly occurrence to eat it,” said Alex Ah Yat, a first-year biology major “all in all I would recommend the place for those that enjoy poke”
Both of these new poke restaurants bring their own unique approach to the popular dish and have unique strengths that make it difficult to declare one as the better choice. Wanderfish is clearly the better option if you are looking for a personalized meal and a place to eat that is close to campus, but if you are looking for a no-frills poke bowl you can pair with your favorite milk tea, then Coffee Tree and Poke is worth the longer trip. You can find Wanderfish at 1620 Broadway at 613 9th Ave between James and Cherry St.
Carlos may be reached at