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Build Your Own Bowl, Chipotle Style

Written By: Matthew J. Black
Photographed By: Josie Gonzales  Pokewan

Chef James Pyo opened a new poke restaurant in Carlsbad this year, Pokewan. He’s a fun guy  who lights up when it comes to talking shop in his kitchen. “It’s fun!” he says. He’s an accomplished chef, already running five sushi restaurants in San Diego including Blue Ocean in Carlsbad. When Blue Ocean isn’t open, or not quite as busy, he runs to the kitchen next door at Pokewan where his creativity is given license to come up with anything he wants.

If you want to trust the chef’s choice, and we recommend you do, then try one of Chef James’ Signature Poke Bowls. They come in two sizes “happy” and “happier.” I tried the “happier” size of the Pokewan Original, and it is a mountain of food with tons of fresh ingredients that produce delicious flavors.

If the Pokewan Original is a mountain of food then the Miso Nutty is an erupting volcano. The spicy tuna at the top of the dish adds a brilliant spice and lovely presentation. And with ingredients like macadamia nuts, we know you’ll love this one.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can create your own poke bowl by choosing your base (rice, cucumber, noodles, etc.), your protein, sauce, and toppings. Served “Chipotle style,” every step in the process has multiple healthy options, such as tofu for protein and cucumber noodles for your base.

In my visit to Pokewan I was privileged enough to try Chef James’s latest inventions: Jolly Cane Ice Cream. This dessert looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. A machine takes corn and creates a crunchy, hollow puff in the shape of a “J.” It’s filled with delicious vanilla or pineapple ice cream, and is basically an improved version of the ice cream cone. We know what you’re thinking, “how can anyone improve the ice cream cone?” Well, the ice cream doesn’t melt, and the Jolly Cane never gets soggy, making it the perfect treat for a sunny San Diego day.

Be sure to try the Brown Rice Puffs, produced from the same machine as the Jolly Cane. Chef James has a tool box in his kitchen full of parts that enable him to create unique shapes for puffy food. Inspired by a stop at a street food cart in South Korea, Chef James serves brown rice puffs with unique flavor combinations.

In my experience, when chefs have fun, taste buds go wild. “I’m always thinking of ways to make it fun for the customer,” Chef James says. All of the delicious items I mentioned is just scratching the surface. Expect Chef James to have fun creating new savory dishes and sweet treats for a long time to come at Pokewan.

Pokewan Logo: The Pokewan concept is a playful portrayal of the relationship between cat and fish. This is reflected in the combination of cat and fish in the Pokewan logo. Pokewan wants you to chase and enjoy their food much like a cat chases a fish. If that isn’t playful enough, then visit the restaurant for yourself. Chef James’s wife and co-owner Jenny made the ambiance fun with positive sayings painted on the tables and cute logos on the walls.

Pokewan
2958 Madison St, Ste 101
Carlsbad, CA 92008
760.720.2300
New Carlsbad Poke Shop, Pokewan, Packs Flavor into a Bowl