It only took me a year, but I finally tried Da Kine Poke, another food business that started as a food truck and then became mostly nonmobile. It celebrated its anniversary this week.
They’ve taken over part of the Meat House in Winter Park. Or maybe it’s the Local Butcher and Market. It’s a little confusing. The Meat House is a franchise butcherie that opened in Winter Park in 2011. Then some locals announced they were buying the business and changing the name to the Local.
That was in October. Of 2015.
It still says the Meat House on the outside of the building, but my receipt read “the Local.” So who knows?
But Da Kine Poke is still Da Kine Poke.
Poke (say poh-keh) is, of course, a sort of raw fish salad that usually has cubed fish with various other accouterments. In its traditional form, it was served simply with sea salt, seaweed and nuts. If it sounds like chirashizushi or fish tartar that’s because it’s very similar. But this is how they do it in Hawaii (the word poke means to cut).
Da Kine (kine is one syllable with a long i) is a Hawaiian phrase, too. But it doesn’t have any one absolute definition. It can mean whatever, including the word “whatever.”
And you can pretty much have whatever in your poke bowl at Da Kine. It offers an assemblage option where you choose your base — white rice, brown rice or salad greens — then either salmon or tuna for the fish, tofu for those so inclined — then toppings too numerous to name here, followed by a choice of one of eight sauces.
In fact, the choices were so daunting that I immediately chose one of the four preordained signature items, the Kimchi Poke Bowl. I still had to choose which fish I wanted (tofu wasn’t even in the running) and the rice. Tuna. Brown.
The ingredients, which also included house-made kimchi, slices of fresh avocado and crunchy bean sprouts on top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, were assembled in a clear plastic bowl and handed to me, rather unceremoniously or even graciously, for me to take wherever, or da kine, if you will.
I took it the offices of SJO where I knew there would be some eating utensils, since none were offered at the Local Meat House.
As I expected and hoped, the kimchi was nice and spicy, perhaps a bit too much so for the delicately fresh cubes of tuna. I did my best to eat it separately and mix the fish, avocado and brown rice together. Ultimately, it was just what has made poke a popular food item in the past few years: a fresh and interesting way to integrate more fish into your diet.
Da Kine Poke is located at 669 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-629-6320.