National chain Pokéworks recently opened its second location in Houston at 2055 Westheimer Road in Montrose, now rendering it doubly convenient for poké enthusiasts to pick up customized bowls made with ingredients derived from sustainable food sources. (That means no frankenfish.)
Top Chef alumnus and Hawaiian native restaurateur Sheldon Simeon has lent his culinary creativity to a line of “signature works” that represent the distinctive multicultural consumption patterns common to his home state. See, for example, the “Hawaiian Classic,” a blend of ahi tuna, ogo seaweed, roasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, chili flakes, and Pokéworks’ custom blend sauce.
When Pokéworks arrived, it joined a host of other more than decent poke joints in town; however, what distinguishes it is its make-your-own bowl option. Yes, other extant poke places also offer what some might call the “Chipotle” model of meal assembly, but Pokéworks’ particularly diverse buffet of various carbohydrates, flora, and proteins make freestyling very appealing, even for this writer who normally would have a panic attack if charged with making a dozen-odd decisions in under two minutes.
On my most recent visit, I opted for a base of white rice (though next time I’m going for the kale noodles) topped with piquant baby scallops and chunks of fatty salmon. Then, I went a bit crazy with the botanicals: cilantro, sweet onions, kale, cucumbers, edamame, briny hijiki seaweed, followed by some heavy drizzles of tangy ginger and sriracha aioli dressings. I added some more ginger just because I love it, a dusting of black and white sesame seeds for nutty crunch, lotus chips (if only for their pretty shape), pearly masago, and garlic crisps since I wouldn’t be smooching anyone in the next four hours. The result was a very colorful bowl highly diverse in flavors and texture that only, perhaps, its creator could love, but that’s the whole point.
The final winning aspect of the Montrose outpost of Pokéworks is that it sits adjacent to Randall’s and Yogurtland, presenting a unique opportunity to buttress your poke meal with some grocery shopping for rainy weather essentials and some soft-serve for dessert.