Lunchtime Poke Bowls at HEIKO

One of my favorite new discoveries in the neighborhood is HEIKO on Rue Fondaudège, perfect for a quick solitary lunch on work-from-home Wednesdays. They specialize in poke bowls  and “sushi burritos” inspired by Hawaiian, Japanese and Mexican flavors. At 11.90€ a bowl and 10.90€ a burrito, this is a pretty great deal. (Considering the quantity of fresh raw fish that goes into each dish, I’d be suspicious if it cost any less.) The staff is friendly. Each bowl is ready in under 5 minutes and with care taken to respect the proportions, which are always quite generous. Plus, they are staying open for delivery and take-away during this second confinement that is now upon us, so I’ll be returning even more in the very near future.

They have 6 different poke bowls available, some made with raw tuna, others with marinated salmon, one with chicken and a vegan option with tofu. These proteins are lain over a bed of rice freshly vinegared in house and paired with the veggies that best complement them: cucumber, cabbage, avocado, carrot, edamame, etc. HEIKO’s “sushi burritos” are a kind of sushi wrapped in a neutrally flavored soy case (rather than seaweed). They come filled with the same marinated sushi rice, proteins, veg and some cream cheese or guacamole to hydrate and glue it all together.

My favorite by far is the Vulcano, which claims to be quite spicy but is really just mildly so. After the ingredients are given a good mix, each chopstickful delivers an explosion of flavors and textures. Cool, slick chunks of very fresh tuna are licked ever-so-slightly by soy sauce, which elevates their natural flavor. Contrasting these very smooth and tender bits of protein are crisp, fresh bits of sliced cucumber and carrot, as well as the crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and naughty fried onion generously sprinkled over the top. Here and there, patches of spicy mayo and very ripe avocado add bursts of flavor and creaminess to round out the texture of the dish. And the best surprise: chunks of mango at the perfect stage of ripeness, not too ripe to be sticky sweet and overwhelm the savory toppings, but just enough. I normally hate the idea of sweet fruit in a savory dish, so this caught me off guard, in a good way. All these elements are mixed in with rice whose vinegar adds just the right pop of acidity to the dish and whose steamy warmth “activates” all the other ingredients to fully reveal their flavors.

So satisfying, fresh and delicious. A lunchtime staple recommended with enthusiasm.

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