Mainland Poke – Casual Healthy Dining

It’s amazing sometimes how simple the best things can be. We get so overwhelmed with choices and options these days that we forget or miss out on the good stuff.

Personally I get paralyzed by indecision sometimes in doing the daily task of choosing a place to eat. Being in LA, I, like most people around here, tend to be very health conscious. When I say “conscious” I mean I am “aware” that I should be eating healthy most of the time (whether I actually do or not is a whole other discussion). So while I’m aware that I need to eat healthy, I always wind up gravitating to fast, cheap, convenient food because it tastes much better than the light salads and soups that healthy people eat. I’m talking burgers, tacos, deli sandwiches. The usual suspects. But not for lack of agonizing over whether or not to “go healthy” every single time.

Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles
Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles

The one best exception to the “good tasty food can’t be healthy” rule is sushi. Raw fish in all its forms sushi/sashimi/poke/tartare is some of the best and healthiest food that you can find in LA. This is a sushi town. The problem is that there is nothing cheap about raw fish. As much as we all would like to, we don’t eat sushi everyday because you can make monthly car payments for the amount of what that would cost.

So what usually prevails in my daily life when I’m hungry? I’m human. I get the cheap fast fried foods. Time and time again. Sigh.

Well, that all will change now that the Mainland Poke Shop has opened up down the street from where I live. Wow, is it fast and healthy! Most surprisingly and importantly… it’s affordable. The menu is simple – they make amazing Hawaiian poke bowls for $10. You know, the stuff with clean rice (optional), raw fresh daily bought fish, seaweed, avocado, roe, ginger, vegetables… all the good stuff you can imagine (especially that seaweed). There is nothing in there that is not good for you. It’s made in front of you in seconds to your specifications.

Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles
Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles

In my delightful fresh to order poke bowl, I personally got a yellowfin, octopus, salmon deluxe bowl. Heavy on the seaweed, avocado and fish roe, delicately seasoned with just spicy shoyu, sesame seeds and… wait for it…  wasabi frickin’ aioli. Voila, the perfect lunch or dinner. The genius is in simplicity of the freshness and the recognition that this is one killer combo of ingredients.

The menu, developed and prepared by Chef Kayson Chong, is a perfect LA winner. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you served the exact same ingredients in a small dimly lit dining room and had customers sitting down on pillows with the staff yelling “Irashimase” at the door when you walk in and served each piece of seafood on a small nugget of rice with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi (I’m estimating that there was 20-25 pieces in the bowl!), you’re looking at a minimum $40+ tab for all your troubles. Not here. Ten bucks is all you pay.

Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles
Mainland Poke Shop on W. 3rd St in Los Angeles

Healthy – check. Fresh – check. Fast – check. Cheap – the most important check. This is something you can eat multiple times a week instead of the cold cut nitrate Subway bomb that you are probably getting three times a week. This is the real deal.

What more is there to say? Get down here, folks. This is the healthy, fast, fresh food that this city has been waiting for. Have some!

Mainland Poke Shop

8318 1/2 W. 3rd Street

Los Angeles, CA  90048


All photos courtesy of Melissa Curtin.