Review: Hai Poké & PurePressed Juicery
Hai Poké is due to open its very own poké place in the Short North this summer, but there’s no reason to wait, you know. There are plenty of urban pop-up opportunities before that. The term “pop-up” is usually associated with random, unplanned events. Honestly, Hai Poké’s style is about as non-random as it gets. It has a fixed schedule at PurePressed Juicery every weekday over the noon hour, regular evening hours at Oddfellows, and a weekend gig at Zauber.
Hai Poké’s occupation of PurePressed creates an ideal opportunity to do a double-doozie test drive of both institutions. The set-up is terribly convenient; you can order from both places at one cash register and cash out with one receipt. The two are conveniently unified, from a guest perspective.
Hai Poké’s part of the menu is pretty straightforward: guests can score a poké bowl in one of four flavors: tuna, salmon, tofu or veggie. Both the Salmon ($10) and the Tuna ($10) combos are unmistakably based on sticky rice, but the supply of fish was ample too, they don’t scrimp in the fish department. Strands of marinated cucumbers, bean sprouts, onions, chips and a lime wedge round things out, and a drizzle of the house “spicy mayo” ties things together in an appealing way. If you have to choose between the two fish, it’s mostly a textural issue: the tuna is firmer than the silky salmon.
There are other bowls in the house, though: there’s the the Acai Bowl from PurePressed. There’s a whole philosophy behind Acai Bowls, and it’s nicer to know that before you visit. Acai is a berry, native to Central and South America, so you won’t find it growing around here. Depending on the sorts of websites you read (it’s all fake news, right?), acai berries are either fat-fighters that slow down the aging process, or alternately . . . they’re pretty much like any other fruit with the same sorts of benefits as any fruit. Win-win, an acai bowl is uncontroversially better for you than a Big Mac.
So, an acai bowl is built on something like a super-thick acai-smoothie foundation. It’s purple-y and mildly sweet, but not fro-yo sweet. There are different ways to customize that foundation, but the menu’s Classic ($8) version tops it with a crunchy granola, slices of bananas and strawberries. The bowl is pleasant, probably best as a breakfast item for a health-oriented sort of person.
Salads are another edible menu mainstay at the juicer. The Classic (also a salad flavor, $7) is a combo of velvety spinach, kale, red peppers, feta cheese, and a blended red pepper dressing. The parts of the salad go nicely together, with the exception of the kale. Baby kale is tender and easy to eat; marinated kale is tenderized and easy to eat; cooked kale is typically soggy and easy to eat. The kale in the Classic is fresh and mature, which is not particularly easy to eat, even if it is packed with nutrients.
What are we forgetting? Juice. It is a cold-pressed juicery, after all. Diners can, in fact, score a liquid lunch in the form of juices and smoothies. There are lots of flavors and blends from which to choose. Green Simplicity ($9) is a good starting point, and a nicer vehicle for the house kale. It’s teamed with apple and lemon juice to produce a pleasantly sweet and very drinkable concoction.
Afterwards, it’s hard not to feel healthy after all those superfoods. Perhaps the immediate benefits are psychosomatic, but even psychosomatic benefits still feel good. You can score yours at 194 S. High St.