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As sushi becomes a culinary mainstay in the United States, new restaurants are able to further experiment with the potential for the raw succulent cuts of fish. Enter PokéLab, an East Lansing eatery opened late 2017, with food that serves as a cross between your favorite sushi house and assembly line fast food bars, such as Chipotle.
Poké (pronounced poh-kay) is a Hawaiian variation of sushi. It takes common cuts of fish, such as salmon, shrimp or tuna, and mixes it with several other ingredients, including rice and noodles — often embellishing the final product with small circular cuts of green onion and a layer of masago.
PokéLab offers just about anything you could find in a sushi roll — avocado, crab, cucumber, et cetera. Just imagine unrolling your favorite concoction and turning it into a bowl, or salad of sorts.
Though it might be a common worry the food could effectively end up as a mushy paste, the ingredients at PokéLab work well together. Yes, they are all thrown together, but each element of the bowl is defined and recognizable by the taste buds.
Poké is traditionally mixed together without much concern for aesthetics, but PokéLab managers say they now prepare the bowls with ingredients visually separated — leaving the decision of “to mix, or not to mix,” up to the customer. Some complain mixing the bowls too heavily negatively impacts the texture, but after ordering two bowls, this author didn’t find that to be the case.
PokéLab, as far as sushi prices go, is affordable. A regular sized bowl runs just past the $10 mark. Altogether, if you’re a sushi fan, PokéLab is worth a shot for your next lunch destination.
PokéLab 245 Ann St., East Lansing Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, noon to 10:30 p.m. (517) 220-2988 www.facebook.com/ lepokelab