The team at ASAP Poke, a new, delivery only restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park is serving up the freshest signature and make-your-own poke bowls and rolls.
ASAP Poke is a collaboration between Chef Tim Hockett, Chef Naoki Nakashima, and Chef Hisanobu Osaka. The digital restaurant was born out of a single idea: to bring Chicago the freshest, sushi-quality fish coupled with seasonal ingredients, as fast as possible. The three chefs have over 30 years of Japanese and French culinary experience and their attention to detail is what makes ASAP Poke stand out.
“Serving poke bowls with big flavor is our focus,” explains Chef Naoki Nakashima. “Though Hawaiian poke and Japanese sushi are vastly different, there are a lot of similarities including the freshness of the fish, the way you prepare the marinades, and the quality of ingredients. We took qualities from traditional Chirashi sushi and combined it with classic Hawaiian flavors and we rolled it into ASAP Poke.”
Poke bowls are all about four things: a great base, fresh fish (or a vegetable substitute), sauce and toppings. Chef Tim Hockett takes us through his tips and tricks for creating a perfectly balanced Poke bowl.
It all starts with a well-seasoned base.
At ASAP Poke we treat all of our bases like we would delicate sushi rice. We add vinegar and seasonings to our various poke bases to ensure that we are building layers of flavor from the bottom up. We offer traditional sushi rice, brown sushi rice, quinoa tabouli or mixed greens for a lighter poke bowl.
Quality is king when it comes to sourcing the freshest fish.
Your bowl is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. We use only sushi grade ahi tuna, yellowtail hamachi, and pacific salmon; preparing our fish and ingredients fresh every morning.
“I’ve been a Sushi Chef for 27 years and we craft our ASAP Poke bowls with the same knowledge,” says Chef Naoki. “We only use fresh ingredients and marinades that we’ve created ourselves. For our tuna, we use a traditional Japanese zuke marinade and our sushi rice is prepared in Chirashi fashion to give it a bold flavor.”
Another pro tip:
“Dicing the fish into smaller bites, allows us to coat the fish giving a better flavor profile,” says Chef Osaka
Not into fish? Go ahead and substitute with a hearty flavored veggie. Chef Hockett’s favorite is slow braised, gingered beets. It’s important to use a veggie that gives you “bite” similar to a piece of protein.
The sauce should complement the flavor of your fish, not cover it up.
At ASAP Poke, we make all of our sauces in-house, daily. A classic marinade with soy, chili, lime, oil, other secret ingredients), a spicy soy dressing, a traditional ponzu, and a tangy yuzu-ginger dressing. Remember: keep it simple and light with the sauce and let the main ingredients speak for themselves.
Freshen it up with seasonal toppings.
Topping your poke bowl off with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables is what can make a poke bowl unique to your taste buds. Poke toppings can range from fruits like pineapple, apple watermelon or mango – giving a sweet finish to your poke to fresh vegetables like avocado, tomato, edamame, onions, radishes, bean sprouts, daikon and more. Like a little spice? Bring the heat with sliced jalapenos, Fresno Chili or habaneros. At ASAP Poke, we also like to finish off our bowls with fresh herbs like cilantro, shiso, chives, seaweed, and more. Chef Tim Hockett also offers seasonal special toppers including summer corn from local Nicholas Farm and more.
Or try pickled vegetables for an extra tang.
It’s true, pickles make everything better and when creating the perfect poke, this rule applies. We love pickled shiitake mushrooms, pickled ginger, pickled radishes or pickled onions.
“Its unique details like pickled shiitake mushrooms that add a distinct flavor to the bowls we are creating at ASAP,” says Chef Osaka. “Other small touches that go a long way is that we use sushi vinegar for the rice and even season our edamame with lemon juice.”
When it comes to toppings, don’t go overboard. Remember, you also eat with your eyes, not just your stomach so we would recommend using no more than 5-8 ingredients.
Give it some crunch.
A great poke bowl not only has maximum flavor but also maximum texture. Some awesome ingredients that add texture and depth to your bowl: toasted sesame seeds, crispy shallots, and Chef Hockett’s personal favorite Furikake, a dry Japanese seasoning.
When you add your toppings and finish off you bowl (or roll), take the time to make it look great. Use small cuts for your veggies, sprinkle some delicate sesame seeds on top, and voila, your best poke creation is ready to eat.
So now that you know exactly how to craft poke perfection, you’ll be a pro the next time you order from ASAP Poke! The restaurant is available for delivery Tuesday – Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. To place your order online or for more information, visit asappokechicago.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.