Located in Springfield at the corner of Breckwood Boulevard and Wilbraham Road, Joy Bowl Poke provides an introduction to poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish.
The eatery is housed in a diminutive space, with its modern-themed layout reflecting fast-casual intentions. Patrons supervise the assembly of their bowls at a counter near the rear; a small assortment of pub-height seating accommodates those who choose to dine in.
A sort of raw seafood salad in its most authentic form, poke today is a more generalized variation of the bowl creations currently popular. Rice and raw fish remain foundation components, but a considerable array of sauces and garnishes are now typically employed to dress up the poke experience.
Joy Bowl Poke offers poke two ways. A selection of six “Signature” constructs is available and includes choices such as an Ahi Tuna Bowl ($10.25), a Wasabi Yuzu Salmon ($10.25) variation, and a poke-style bowl built around Organic Tofu ($8.95). The other alternative is a “your way” option that calls upon patrons to personalize their poke bowl.
Deciding that the signature series was the best way to explore what Joy Bowl Poke had to offer, we focused on the house-curated bowl builds.
A Joy Classic Bowl ($10.25) proved to be a first rate introduction to poke. Full of flavors reminiscent of sushi, the bowl began with several scoops of warm rice over which cool salad greens had been layered.
Atop that base generous scoops of diced raw tuna, cut-up salmon, cubed ripe mango, sweet corn kernels, and edamame were heaped. Garnished with finely cut seaweed in a sesame-soy-vinegar dressing, the bowl proved to be a tasty (and quite filling) meal experience.
The seafood impressed us with its clean, fresh character, and we appreciated the interplay of sweet, sour, and savory that the other ingredients contributed. A zesty “aioli” enlivened with sriracha sauce lent a hot-sauce kick to each forkful, while a sweet-tart unagi (eel sauce) served to round off any rough edges.
The Hawaiian Classic ($12.25) was equally multifaceted. Its base of rice and salad greens was topped with small scallops, whole medium shrimp, and, to our mild surprise, real crabmeat rather than hunks of crab “analog.” The seafood impressed us as being fresh, while sliced red onion and whole grape tomatoes served as colorful garnishes.
A flavor booster for this particular bowl was a creamy sauce based on miso that had been judiciously amped-up with wasabi. Fresh cilantro represented a final taste-bud grace note.
Chicken served as the protein component of the Honolulu Bowl ($9.50). Diced breast meat and cubed pineapple dominated; we went with brown rice for this particular bowl and found its heartier character worked well with the other ingredients.
A dollop of the aforementioned seaweed salad contributed complexity, while garnishes of grated carrot and sliced jalapeno pepper added color and crunch.
We concluded that Poke, at least as served at Joy Bowl, has much to recommend it. The portions were generous and the complex interplay of flavors and textures was across-the-board pleasurable.
Joy Bowl’s “Poke Your Way” option is all about versatility. Regardless of whether patrons are keto, low-carb, vegetarian, or just hungry, Joy Bowl can accommodate.
After selecting a base of either white or brown rice, bowls can be built with one protein ($7.95), two proteins ($9.95) or three proteins ($11.95). Those options are selected from a list that ranges from tofu to seafood and even beef.
Twenty-plus “mix-ins” are on display, with choices both exotic (seaweed and tamago) and familiar (mushrooms, cheese, and green onion).
A dozen different sauces and dressings are available, as are “toppers” like sesame seeds, onion crisps, and shredded nori.
Joy Bowl Poke’s beverage selection is limited to fountain soft drinks and bottled juices, teas, and sodas. No dessert is available.
Offering a fresh, flavor-filled, and highly customizable experience, Joy Bowl Poke is a tasty introduction to Hawaiian-inspired bowl dining.
Joy Bowl Poke also has locations in West Springfield on Riverdale Street and on Hazard Avenue in Enfield, CT.
Name: Joy Bowl Poke
Address: 455A Breckwood Boulevard, Springfield
Telephone: (413) 455-1280
Hours: Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. -9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Entree prices: $7.95 – $12.25
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Handicapped access: Accessible; no public restroom
Reservations: Not taken