After January that seemed to last exactly 4,852 years, we are now firmly in sunnier February. Yes Storm Ciara will be on the prowl come Sunday, but a lighter sky means thinking about lighter food. I know I’m a hopeful soul, but there is something about a gloriously golden sun burning bright in the sky, that automatically lifts my soul and lightens my spirits.
Lighter food for me means more vegetables, light salads and noodle-y bits. Leading nicely to segue onto my question of the day: Have you heard of poké? It is a staple of Hawaiian (try spelling that when you’ve only had one cup of coffee) food consisting of raw fish tossed with a light dressing over rice or noodles. Think of it as your next generation sushi, and a food trend that continues to be seen on menus across the country.
Pronounced “poh-kayy” (as if you’re saying “OKAY” but a whole load of attitude and with a ‘p’ at the beginning, poké is going to be your favourite food of spring, summer and heck, even winter.
Pokéwaves is Nottingham’s first Hawaiian Poké Bar. It’s an independent (yaay!) in Victoria Centre’s intu shopping mall. It’s my first-time eating poké, so although I don’t have a frame of reference, I know it is supposed to be fresh, filling and flavoursome.
It’s a busy Saturday afternoon and there is a mixed crowd in the communal seating area at Pokéwaves Nottingham. Families with various generations (I spied a cool granddad, father and son on one table), teens on dates and a whole load more means that Pokéwaves has diverse appeal. Chatting to Nelson the general manager, whose enthusiasm for poké is a joy to see, is enlightening. Apparently Pokéwaves do brisk business via Deliveroo and it is very, very popular amongst students.
Now, when I was a student back in the day, my most adventurous cooking consisted of beans on toast, Pot Noodle and, if I was really pushing the boat out, a pasta bake. Students’ palates have obviously become more adventurous and worldly since. Would I play catch up and dig poké too?
We plant at a table, pap a few photos and line up at the bar to get our poké on. If you’re a terminal faffer like yours truly (I much prefer the term Master Procrastinator – to be uttered like an MC at a World Wrestling Championship, so “Massssssster Procrassssstinatorrrrrrr”), then here are options that you will like. Signature Bowls form a capsule collection of compact dishes, ranging from yuzu salmon to ahi tuna.
Or if you’re feeling cocky and want to get really creative, you can make up your own bowl. With this latter option, you follow the basic four step rule of base – protein – toppings – sauce. It all depends on how hungry you are.
If I’m Starvin’ Marvin, I’d choose brown rice. If I wanted a light lunch and had say, a dinner planned in the evening, I would choose greens as the foundation to my poké bowl. So, you firstly pick your base of either sushi rice, brown rice, soba noodles or leafy greens. Choose your protein from tuna, shrimp, chicken and salmon. If you want to incorporate plant-based food, you can happily chow down some miso tofu which is a protein option at Pokéwaves.
Select up to four toppings (seaweed salad, kimchi and masago are just a few), decide on a garnish, and you’re all set. My bowl is chockfull of goodness. The base of brown rice with a liberal glug of soy sauce (I’ve always been a rice gal) goes perfectly with meaty garlic shrimp and creamy avocado. Dining partner’s wasabi salmon on soba noodles is tangy and fragrant, the kimchi adding a polite, kick on the swallow.
I feel pleasantly full after my poké bowl and promise myself that Pokéwaves will be my port of call when I am next in Nottingham.
You can even grab and go; the naked shrimp and mango salsa comes in a small sundae pot that is ideal if you’re rushing from one meeting to the next.
Pokéwaves is healthy, fast, casual dining at its best. I’d recommend you sit down and enjoy the creative dishes in the buzzy environment. If you really must dash, get a take-out. I can guarantee fellow travellers on the train or bus will be utterly envious.
It is difficult to score a communal area, so I shall say that Pokéwaves boasts a vibrant ambience as diners enjoy the pleasant buzz of conversation. Service is fast and Nelson is very knowledgeable. If you’re worried about eating fresh fish, don’t be as Nelson will talk you through the plentiful options and put your mind at rest. (There are cooked protein options to
Pokéwaves is available on Deliveroo. Students get a 10% discount whilst gym members and intu employees get a 15% discount.
Restaurant name: Pokéwaves Nottingham
Address: intu Victoria Centre, Upper Mall, Clock Tower Dining, Nottingham NG1 3PA
Open since June 2019
Mon – Sat 11.00am – 7.00 pm
Sun 11 am – 6 pm
No reservation required. Payment is via card only.
Communal seating area directly adjacent to the poké bar.
How to get there: Pokéwaves is in the Clock Tower Dining section of intu Nottingham
*Complimentary dining experience in exchange for a review*