Walk down any street in Hawaii and you’ll find a poké place just like Paddles Up Poké in Boise. Boise doesn’t have as many poké shops as Hawaii does, but they do have Paddles Up Poké. Convenient to businesses, the Idaho Statehouse, shops and the Egyptian Theatre, Paddles Up Poké is a great place to try poké, a casual place for a light lunch or a more substantial dinner. So what is poké (pronounced po-kay) anyways? It’s very simple—it is raw fish (or cooked shrimp or tofu), sometimes marinated, served on a bed of rice (or mixed greens and other choices) with an assortment of toppings and sauces. You go up to the order counter, tell them whether you want a small or large bowl and choose from the many options they have. It’s easy and creates an ‘Ono (delicious in Hawaiian) meal tailored to your tastes.
They key to good poké is fresh ingredients. The owners, Dan Landucci and Jordan Tapangco made sure they were able to source top-quality fish for the restaurant. My first taste reminded me of my favorite place in Kona, Hawaii, Umeke’s Poké. The tuna was very fresh, the scallops tender and the yellowtail practically melted in my mouth. Ginger, fried onions, carrots, seaweed salad, sweet onions, edamame and wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe infused with Japanese horseradish) completed my bowl, which was topped with an Eel Sauce and a Spicy Piranha Sauce. The flavors blended well and the different textures were a nice contrast. The wasabi tobiko and the Spicy Piranha sauce really gave the flavors a nice kick. It was a very enjoyable meal, filling but comfortable.
Another bowl we had at Paddles Up Poké in Boise was made with tofu, and is able to satisfy those who are looking for a vegetarian option or who do not care for raw fish and seafood. There is even a Paleo Pineapple Sauce which is soy and gluten free. The house sauce, the Piranha Sauce, was tasty but not overpowering to the other ingredients. They have several sauces for various tastes, spicy and non-spicy. With options like white and brown rice, spring salad mix and Zoodles (their zucchini noodles) as other base options, you can create a nice bowl with truly healthy ingredients to fit all diets.
Paddles Up Poké in Boise has several ways to make your poké bowl. There are four combinations they have, such as the Bogus Basin Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, or else you can use the design-your-own option to make whatever bowl you want. The friendly ‘poké chefs’ are very helpful in telling you what the different sauces, toppings and other goods are as you design your own bowl. For the first-timer, one of the combinations is a good choice to see what works well together.
Another option that is available is the Poké Burrito, essentially a big sushi roll made with the poké and other fresh ingredients that include crab, seaweed salad, avocado and cucumber. It’s rolled into a nice piece of nori and served with potato chips. The 9th Street Salmon and the Greenbelt are two of the burrito choices they have at Paddles Up Poké. This is a unique way to enjoy something that is not quite sushi but has a lot of the elements of it.
Paddles Up Poké in Boise has plenty of seating inside and is also very good for to-go orders. A sign inside says
Keepin’ It Raw In Boise, Idaho. Fresh, raw ingredients prepared in a delicious, healthy way are certainly what Paddles Up Poké offers.
Paddles Up Poké
237 North 9th Streett
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: (208) 412-5581
Photo gallery below. All photos by Ed Simon for The Boise Beat.