Here are some common items on bucket lists: skydiving, climbing Mount Everest, sit courtside at an NBA game, having coffee with Zooey Deschanel (okay, maybe the last one was just me).
Here is an uncommon item on a bucket list: visiting the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and eating lunch at Pokeh
It’s an interesting conundrum. Some people might say, “Of course the Market isn’t on our bucket list, it’s so close to home, we could go there any time!” My response to that would be, “So why haven’t you made it out yet?” So often, these little day trips are one step removed from our daily routine, but not grand enough to deserve a spot on our bucket list, so they never end up getting fulfilled.
We get it. School sucks sometimes. Who has time to trek downtown and enjoy a nice poke bowl from Pokeh and really contemplate on its intense flavour profile when all you can think about is a capstone paper on the Western appropriation of Zen Buddhism? How can you justify sitting through a 20-minute bus ride when the same 20 minutes could be put towards drilling the different types of gunshot wounds into your brain for a forensic anthropology midterm? But it’s the SUMMER and there is literally no excuse to make it down to the market, even if it’s just for an hour so!
I had the chance of trying a poke bowl from Pokeh about two weeks ago, which is tucked near the back of the end of the Farmer’s Market in the Real Food Court (also home to Eat Inc., Henry Brown’s Small Batch Ice Cream). I can honestly say for the brief half hour that I was eating, my tastebuds were in heaven.
At this moment, some of you might be wondering, “What in the world is Poke?” Is it short form for Pokémon? Is this an edible Facebook poke? No, but those are creative guesses. Poke (pronounced po-kay) is a raw fish salad that has been a staple in Hawaiian cuisine for decades. Despite being attributed to Hawaiian cuisine, poke has some heavy Asian (especially Japanese) influences. The raw fish, traditionally octopus or oily tuna, and now salmon and yellowfin, is at its simplest form mixed with sesame oil, soy sauce, and green onions.
However, Pokeh, much like a regular salad bar, expands the list of combinations with a lengthy selection of fish, sauces, and toppings, so that everyone can have their own perfect poke bowl. Some of the more unique toppings include pumpkin seeds, wasabi peas, house pickled jalapenos, and green mango! Click below to see their full customization options (pulled from pokeh.ca)!
When I went with my friends, I had a custom bowl (which I highly recommend) with salmon, brown rice, spicy mayo, sesame oil, taro chips, green mango, cucumbers, green onions, and pickled jalapenos! The other two had the “Classic Bowl”, which consisted of ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, green/white onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and macadamia nuts. Upon seeing the bowl in front of me, I was immediately brought back to my childhood. Having family that lives in Hawaii, I had multiple opportunities to sample poke over on the islands and seeing the colourful bowl in front of me immediately made me realize how much I missed it. Two bites into our meal, there were already smiles all around, as there was an unspoken consensus that this poke bowl was #blessed. For the size of the bowl, the meal was surprisingly filling, yet I didn’t feel weighed down and groggy afterwards, which is another plus.
The Farmer’s Market is open from 11 am – 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and open from 10 am – 5 pm on Saturdays.
I finally crossed off “Visit Pokeh” from my bucket list. Now the question is: have you put it on yours yet?
The directions (from Mac) can be found here: Directions to the Market!