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Blue Line trolley to Nobel Drive to Poki One N Half

This is the start of a whole new way to see the county

Chopped up fish is what Poki’s all about.
Chopped up fish is what Poki’s all about.

This. Is. Fabulous.

Talking about the new Blue Line. We’re zinging up where no trolley has gone before. New stations with unknown names like “Tecolote Road,” (Turns out “Tecolote” means “owl” in Nahuatl) and “Clairemont Drive.”

Place

Poki One N Half

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, Suite #109, San Diego

And right where the in-spiring Mormon temple needles heavenwards on the right, we cruise to a stop. “Nobel Drive.” It’s one of those stations that’s built up in the air, at the fifth level of a brand-new parking structure. And looking down to the street and a Marshall’s store, I see a row of food places I’ve never seen before. Crumbl (a bakery just opening), a new Kebab Shop, and next to that, Padadak Korean Chicken. Then, a Jamba Juice, and at the other end, this — huh? Poki One N Half? Whatever, it’s a poke place. It’ll do fine. Give me time to chomp before the next Blue Line trolley takes me south.

New trolley stop is right next to Poki, and the Mormon super church.

By the time I finally work out how to ride this danged elevator, dusk is already starting to throw its cloak over that streetscape below. Lights of the eateries flicker on. Down at street level, it’s a toss-up between Padadak Korean Chicken, the Kebab Shop, and Poki. Poki wins by a nose, mainly because they get me curious over a drink they call “Chu Hi J-Pop.” What da…? “It’s like an alcoholic pop soda drink,” says Tracy, one of a team behind Poki’s long, curved counter. Turns out Chu Hi is part of a new drink craze out of Japan. It’s based on the shoju distilled rice spirit, and can have as much alcohol as a strong beer. But like, say, Cutwater’s canned drinks, it looks like it could be kinda sweet and fruity while packing a punch. Whatever, I wimp out and ask for a Sapporo beer ($3.95).

Now, gotta work out the “How To” part of this food. “First choose your bowl,” say the instructions on the wall. I go for the small. You still get two scoops of fish plus all sorts of sides for $11.99. Three scoops cost $12.99. Five scoops are $14.99 (plus you get a bigger bowl of sides). They also have a Poki burrito stuffed with three scoops of fish for $12.99.

That’s it. Nice and simple. Except it’s not. Back to the wall: a bunch of instructions tell you how to navigate all the fishy options. And there are plenty. So step one, choose your base. Brown or white rice. And salad, chips. or half and half. Step two, choose your add-ons, like avocado, or imitation crab meat (free!). Step three: choose your fish. Choices are salmon, tuna, albacore, minced lobster, shrimp, octopus, scallop, or spicy tuna, most of them raw. Step four, choose your heat: from mild to “fire” poke sauce. Step five, choose your toppings, from seaweed salad to ginger to wasabi to crunchy garlic. On and on. Also, you can get extras like miso soup ($1.95), or the Chu-Hi J Pop ($4.95).

Seaweed and sesame seeds.

So, whew, you get through all those decisions, you just wanna sit down and glug something cold and fizzy. Foodwise, I chose rice (they had only white tonight), with salmon and minced lobster as my two proteins, and the fire-hot level of poke sauce, because I know they always tone things down spice-wise for us gringos. I take my tray, which holds my beer and round cardboard bowl, and head out into the cool, looking up at the Blue Line in the sky.

I was right to go hot-hot for the sauce. It’s not really that hot. And yes, I do ask for some soy sauce. The original mixture tastes good, but leaves me craving the extra salty bite. From Tracy’s look, I ain’t the first. I mean, no complaints. There is plenty of flavor anyway. The salmon has a nice garlicky taste, or is that the lobster? Hard to tell, because everything tends to get mixed in together in the confines of the bowl.

What the name means - hard to decipher, food choices - hard to get wrong.

But of course, the thing is, this is mostly healthy healthy healthy stuff compared with your standard fast food franchise fare. And Poke One N Half is a small chain that started up here, and now operates eight poke places around the county, including further up the Blue Line at UCSD. Because the fact is, poke (most spell it this way and pronounce it “poh-kay”) is one of the great native Hawaiian dishes. Nothing to do with imported “Hawaiian” foods like Spam. Or even Japanese “tako” poke. And just like the choices on the wall, Hawaiians like to mix things up. Fish, vegetables of the sea (like seaweed), a bit of soy. And given how the general drift of fast foods — specially in this new shopping development — is towards healthy, Asia, and Pacific, this sure looks to be the future. Of course, the main thing is to look for freshness, because it counts with fish more than anything. And this does taste good and fresh.

And guess what? The line just keeps on coming in behind me. Most look like students or office workers buying food to take home. I’m already tempted to come back, because within that simple menu is such a huge range of choices. You’ve got four bases, seven choices of seafood, and around ten toppings. Possible ariations? You do the math.

As I head out and up towards the new trolley level station, I realize this is the start of a whole new way to see the county. The new Blue Line kinda sneaks into places like here in Nobel Drive, giving you a totally new take on areas you thought you knew. Can’t wait to get back aboard and travel north.

One thing bothering me: What does “Poki One N Half” mean exactly? Tracy mutters something about how you get extra in your choice, but honestly I don’t geddit. Don’t matter. I’m hooked anyway. Poh Kay? OK!

  • The Place: Poki One N Half, 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, Suite #109, 858-291-8855
  • Hours: 11am-10pm, daily
  • Prices: “Chu Hi J-Pop,” $4.95; Sapporo beer, 3.95; Small bowl poki (two scoops fish, sides), $11.99; three scoops, $12.99; five scoops,$14.99; poki burrito (with three scoops of fish), $12.99;
  • Buses: 30, 201, 202
  • Nearest Bus Stop: Nobel Drive and La Jolla Village Drive
  • Trolley: Blue Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: Nobel Drive
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Chopped up fish is what Poki’s all about.
Chopped up fish is what Poki’s all about.

This. Is. Fabulous.

Talking about the new Blue Line. We’re zinging up where no trolley has gone before. New stations with unknown names like “Tecolote Road,” (Turns out “Tecolote” means “owl” in Nahuatl) and “Clairemont Drive.”

Place

Poki One N Half

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, Suite #109, San Diego

And right where the in-spiring Mormon temple needles heavenwards on the right, we cruise to a stop. “Nobel Drive.” It’s one of those stations that’s built up in the air, at the fifth level of a brand-new parking structure. And looking down to the street and a Marshall’s store, I see a row of food places I’ve never seen before. Crumbl (a bakery just opening), a new Kebab Shop, and next to that, Padadak Korean Chicken. Then, a Jamba Juice, and at the other end, this — huh? Poki One N Half? Whatever, it’s a poke place. It’ll do fine. Give me time to chomp before the next Blue Line trolley takes me south.

New trolley stop is right next to Poki, and the Mormon super church.

By the time I finally work out how to ride this danged elevator, dusk is already starting to throw its cloak over that streetscape below. Lights of the eateries flicker on. Down at street level, it’s a toss-up between Padadak Korean Chicken, the Kebab Shop, and Poki. Poki wins by a nose, mainly because they get me curious over a drink they call “Chu Hi J-Pop.” What da…? “It’s like an alcoholic pop soda drink,” says Tracy, one of a team behind Poki’s long, curved counter. Turns out Chu Hi is part of a new drink craze out of Japan. It’s based on the shoju distilled rice spirit, and can have as much alcohol as a strong beer. But like, say, Cutwater’s canned drinks, it looks like it could be kinda sweet and fruity while packing a punch. Whatever, I wimp out and ask for a Sapporo beer ($3.95).

Now, gotta work out the “How To” part of this food. “First choose your bowl,” say the instructions on the wall. I go for the small. You still get two scoops of fish plus all sorts of sides for $11.99. Three scoops cost $12.99. Five scoops are $14.99 (plus you get a bigger bowl of sides). They also have a Poki burrito stuffed with three scoops of fish for $12.99.

That’s it. Nice and simple. Except it’s not. Back to the wall: a bunch of instructions tell you how to navigate all the fishy options. And there are plenty. So step one, choose your base. Brown or white rice. And salad, chips. or half and half. Step two, choose your add-ons, like avocado, or imitation crab meat (free!). Step three: choose your fish. Choices are salmon, tuna, albacore, minced lobster, shrimp, octopus, scallop, or spicy tuna, most of them raw. Step four, choose your heat: from mild to “fire” poke sauce. Step five, choose your toppings, from seaweed salad to ginger to wasabi to crunchy garlic. On and on. Also, you can get extras like miso soup ($1.95), or the Chu-Hi J Pop ($4.95).

Seaweed and sesame seeds.

So, whew, you get through all those decisions, you just wanna sit down and glug something cold and fizzy. Foodwise, I chose rice (they had only white tonight), with salmon and minced lobster as my two proteins, and the fire-hot level of poke sauce, because I know they always tone things down spice-wise for us gringos. I take my tray, which holds my beer and round cardboard bowl, and head out into the cool, looking up at the Blue Line in the sky.

I was right to go hot-hot for the sauce. It’s not really that hot. And yes, I do ask for some soy sauce. The original mixture tastes good, but leaves me craving the extra salty bite. From Tracy’s look, I ain’t the first. I mean, no complaints. There is plenty of flavor anyway. The salmon has a nice garlicky taste, or is that the lobster? Hard to tell, because everything tends to get mixed in together in the confines of the bowl.

What the name means - hard to decipher, food choices - hard to get wrong.

But of course, the thing is, this is mostly healthy healthy healthy stuff compared with your standard fast food franchise fare. And Poke One N Half is a small chain that started up here, and now operates eight poke places around the county, including further up the Blue Line at UCSD. Because the fact is, poke (most spell it this way and pronounce it “poh-kay”) is one of the great native Hawaiian dishes. Nothing to do with imported “Hawaiian” foods like Spam. Or even Japanese “tako” poke. And just like the choices on the wall, Hawaiians like to mix things up. Fish, vegetables of the sea (like seaweed), a bit of soy. And given how the general drift of fast foods — specially in this new shopping development — is towards healthy, Asia, and Pacific, this sure looks to be the future. Of course, the main thing is to look for freshness, because it counts with fish more than anything. And this does taste good and fresh.

And guess what? The line just keeps on coming in behind me. Most look like students or office workers buying food to take home. I’m already tempted to come back, because within that simple menu is such a huge range of choices. You’ve got four bases, seven choices of seafood, and around ten toppings. Possible ariations? You do the math.

As I head out and up towards the new trolley level station, I realize this is the start of a whole new way to see the county. The new Blue Line kinda sneaks into places like here in Nobel Drive, giving you a totally new take on areas you thought you knew. Can’t wait to get back aboard and travel north.

One thing bothering me: What does “Poki One N Half” mean exactly? Tracy mutters something about how you get extra in your choice, but honestly I don’t geddit. Don’t matter. I’m hooked anyway. Poh Kay? OK!

  • The Place: Poki One N Half, 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, Suite #109, 858-291-8855
  • Hours: 11am-10pm, daily
  • Prices: “Chu Hi J-Pop,” $4.95; Sapporo beer, 3.95; Small bowl poki (two scoops fish, sides), $11.99; three scoops, $12.99; five scoops,$14.99; poki burrito (with three scoops of fish), $12.99;
  • Buses: 30, 201, 202
  • Nearest Bus Stop: Nobel Drive and La Jolla Village Drive
  • Trolley: Blue Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: Nobel Drive
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