Restaurant of the Week: Poke Dot

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Poke Dot, 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd. (at 2nd), Claremont

The poke craze, like the Pokemon craze, has hit Claremont. Poke Dot, whose only other location right now is in Irvine, opened last week in the Village (or the “new Village,” depending on your outlook). A “coming soon” sign for Oke Poke is hanging outside the Old School House.

A friend alerted me that Poke Dot had a half-off deal for its opening weekend, so rather than let the place settle in, I headed over on Sunday. It was busy, not surprisingly. The restaurant, whose name is a pun on “polka dot” if you need help with the pronunciation, is between Jamba Juice and a skate shop and replaces a gift shop that moved a couple of doors north.

As with Oke Poke, whose Chino Hills location was featured here recently, you line up like at Chipotle or Subway to make a series of possibly bewildering choices. Regular or large bowl, OK. Salad or rice, yes. By the time you decide whether you want masago or furikake, or both, you may be flying blind.

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I opted for a regular bowl ($9), brown rice, a mix of cucumber, onion and cilantro, then tuna, scallops and the seasonal fish, yellowtail. The seasoning and sauce question was answered cilantro twist, and for toppings, I got masago, furikake and green onions. Combined with a canned soda, I’d normally have paid $11.

The bowl was quite good, and while I had liked Oke Poke, the fish seemed to be of higher quality here. Which is good for me, since Poke Dot is closer than Chino Hills, or even the Old School House. At this point, the only other Poke Dot is in Irvine.

After your meal, you can play Pokemon in the neighborhood — the fountain in the courtyard plaza is a hotspot, as is 2nd Street between Harvard and Yale.

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Restaurant of the Week: Oke Poke, Chino Hills

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Oke Poke, 3277 Grand Ave. (at Peyton), Chino Hills

Poke, as the menu helpfully explains “is a classic Hawaiian dish comprised of sliced, raw fish and various mix-ins.” It’s becoming popular out our way, with several poke spots having opened in Rancho Cucamonga, for instance, and two in the works for Claremont, which currently has none.

Oke Poke, pronounced like okey-dokey, is a chain with a location in Chino Hills in Payne Ranch Center across Peyton from the Shoppes. It opened in 2015. I met a CHills friend there for lunch recently for my second poke experience this summer (the other was in LA).

As with Chipotle or Pieology, you get in line and proceed to make a series of choices for your bowl: a size (regular $9, large $11), a base (white or brown rice, salad, noodles or cucumber), add-ons, fish (up to five selections for a large), sauce and toppings. Or you can save some brain cells and order a pre-selected bowl. Bowls are all they have, except for miso soup and dessert. Note that all seafood options are the same price, a rarity, and that avocado is free, likewise.

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I got salmon, ahi tuna and scallops atop brown rice with moku seasoning, above; my friend had ahi atop a salad with sesame dressing, below. Both were regular sized.

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They were tasty, light but filling. “I think that was a carb-free lunch,” my friend said with satisfaction. Then she pulled out her phone and played Pokemon Go for a minute (her daughter is hooked too) when a virtual creature appeared at the table next to ours.

Yes, fittingly, the poke restaurant is a poke stop.

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