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Build Your Own Hawaiian Poke Bowls At This New 3rd Street Spot

We ordered a poke bowl from Mainland Poke Shop with salmon, octopus, mango, edamame, green onions, furikake, rice and coconut cream sauce (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
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These days, it seems like everyone is out to Chipotle-fy everything—from build-your-own rice bowls to pizza. The new kid on the block is customizable Hawaiian poke bowls, a craze we can get behind.

Mainland Poke Shop opened its doors over the weekend on 3rd Street, just steps away from Joan's On Third and Juice Served Here. The fast-casual restaurant is the brainchild of Ari Kahan and Executive Chef Kayson Chong (formerly of BOA Steakhouse).

You start by picking a size for your poke bowl: large or small. Each order comes with a base of white or brown rice, kale or baby greens. Then you select as many options as you want from their bar. You can choose from their raw fish section, which include chunks of fresh tuna, salmon, albacore and a chef's choice that haven't been marinated. When we visited Mainland Poke Shop on Friday, their chef's choice that day was sliced raw octopus. Then you can select any and as many of their seven sauces, which go from your basic shoyu all the way to Peruvian citrus and coconut sauce. They have unlimited toppings for you to tack on as well—from furikake to mango and green onions.

Kahan says that Mainland Poke Shop is choosing to serve poke that hasn't been pre-marinated because the emphasis is on fresh fish, like the kind he was served on trips to Hawaii. He explained in a release: "By using only the prime cuts of fish, and only the best fish available, we have created a product on par with some of the city’s top sushi restaurants, while maintaining authenticity of flavor."

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The poke bar at Mainland Poke Shop (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
He delivered on his promise. We tried a large poke bowl with a white rice base, a mix of salmon and octopus, mango chunks, edamame, green onions and furikake covered in their creamy coconut sauce. The salmon is extremely fresh, and the octopus flavorful. The combination of flavors is delicious, and there's joy in getting to pile on all the flavors you'd like as if you're a poke chef. We also sampled some chunks of tuna, also fresh, covered in shoyu, avocado cream and furikake. We highly suggest both options.

For the indecisive folks, Mainland Poke Shop also has their tested-and-true bowl combinations so you don't have to build your own. They've got ones like "That Fire!" which is made with tuna, furikake, chili flakes, jalapeno, Sriracha and wasabi cream for those who really need an extra kick. And there's the "Ichiban" with albacore, pickled ginger, green onions, tobiko and wasabi cream.

A small runs at $8.45 and a large at $10.95. If you want their Aloha Bowl, which means you don't add a base and can stock up on all the other ingredients, that's $10.95 for a small and $14.95 for a large.

Here are the small and a large sizes:

Small and large sizes of the poke bowls at Mainland Poke Shop (Photo via Instagram)
Patrons can wash their bowls down with a rotating list of limeade drinks. When we were there they had a cherry limeade and mint limeade. I tried the latter, which was light and refreshing.

The shop itself is small and casual. There's a thin table lined up against the wall with chairs. It's one of those joints where you can grab a quick bite there take it to-go.

Mainland Poke Shop's not alone in the poke business though. Earlier this month, Sweetfin Poké, which has a similar model opened up shop in Santa Monica. And there's Poke - Poke in Venice. It feels like a "Chipoke" trend is a-brewing.

Mainland Poke Shop is located at 8318 1/2 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (310) 234-8800. The shop is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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