I initially ventured downtown donning four layers of varying materials and thicknesses, only have to shed 1-2 pieces as the day progressed. The walk that had been anticipated to be overcast and breezy (think autumn in Vancouver) evolved into a somewhat breezy day with blue skies and few clouds shortly after lunchtime.
All members of staff were friendly and prompt in acknowledging every new occupant of the room, despite the incredible number that stumbled in during the lunch rush. It was evident that efforts were made to assist each customer in a timely manner, regardless of state of urgency, by taking orders and processing them in an assembly line.
Originally in contemplation of building my own bowl, the idea was dismissed when informed that the lower price also meant fewer toppings. While scanning the menu earlier, I had also noticed the additional charge for ahi tuna and avocado in the customized option. However, I remained reluctant to settle for white rice.
To my utter delight, I was told that the base of the Signature Bowls could, indeed, be altered. Hearing this, I chose Cali's (with brown rice) without a second thought.
Toppings- and sauce-wise, customers were permitted to choose any number and type to slather on top of their bowls. I skipped the jalanpenos and fried onions, instead opting for pickled watermelon radish, wakame salad, green onions, and fine strips of seaweed.
Their sauces were rather innovative: Spicy Aioli, Wasabi Mayo, Creamy Togarashi, Classic Shoyu, and Ginger Yuzu Mayo; I requested all but the first (it was likely made with sriracha). A sprinkle of togarashi powder added a gentle fiery kick that even I, a being with an excruciatingly low spice tolerance, could appreciate.
My own bowl was a blissful compilation of muti-toned toppings paired wit well-marinated and wonderfully flavourful salmon and tuna cubes essentially oozing of freshness. The prior steps of marinating and seasoning contributed to a significant difference in taste and texture. The housemade sauces were adequately unique in that each retained its distinctive flavours without compromising the poke marinade. Each element was savoured with the greatest amount of enjoyment.
My only complaint is that the pickled watermelon radish wasn't nearly as sweet as claimed, but merely bland and crunchy; nonetheless, it was refreshing.
It's safe to say that my poke woes were expelled at this location - the "Guys" provided fresh, flavourful options without sacrficing quality and quantity. Most importantly the portion size was appropriate and economically-priced for the neighbourhood it was situated within.
The original plan had been to sing our lungs out at Echo, though for some odd reason, the doors were locked when we arrived.
With our orders placed, the menus were whisked away and a trio of banchan were delivered. White pickled radish, corn kernels, and Korean potato salad filled the sectioned tray. A tabletop gas stove bearing the battle scars - er sauce stains - of previous diners arrived shortly as well.
It's not you, it's me.