Kawamata Seafood. 26881 Camino De Estrella, Dana Point. 949.248.1914. www.facebook.com/kawamataseafood.
Though the poke bowl trend has taken off across the globe it seems—you can probably find a shop in Kansas City—it is a distinctly Pacific dish. It marries fresh fish, sticky rice and typically Asian flavors in herbs and dressings to effect a singular taste experience. And its complemented especially well at Kawamata Seafood with its casual walk-up service and small, communal, outdoor dining area.
There are various combinations of rice, fish and dressing you can select at Kawamata. I went with fresh, meaty chunks of ahi tuna, well-treated and perfectly textured octopus (no small feat), white rice and the “original” dressing of soy sauce, lemon juice and sesame chili oil. Roe and avocado were added on top, and cucumbers, green onions and white onions provided texture and crispness throughout the bowl.
Altogether, the bowl is balanced, but the joy of eating it is in the pockets of flavor on each bite. Some bites are creamy and evanescent with avocado, tuna and citrus. Others are forthright and spicy, with the octopus, onion and chili oil. Yet, at the end of the bowl, it’s all one great dining experience.—Matt Cortina