It was a sad day in the life of many spice fiend Palermo-ers when POKE delivery retired their bicycle and ended their delivery-only service. A single tear dropped on that perfectly cupped iceberg lettuce wrap as I said a sad goodbye to POKE, one of (if not THE) best delivery foods in Buenos Aires. But praise be the heavens, POKE Restaurant came back with a vengeance, popping up every Wednesday night to take over the kitchen at Magdalena’s Party in Palermo. Serving mouthjizzing, flavor packed spicy food, POKE is now becoming a Wednesday night staple in the Buenos Aires eating scene.
Californian Chef Mychael Henry was one of the Buenos Aires firsts to go fully pop-up, cooking fine flavorful food with killer combinations that are rare to find in the city. Using his diverse culinary background, Mychael cooks up Pan-Latin-Asian street food-esque inspired dishes, fusing flavors and cooking techniques from Peruvian, Hawaiian, Californian, Central American, Japanese and Korean cuisines.
POKE’s menu changes weekly, with generally a selection of four main dishes served on small tapas-like plates. Inventive, bursting with tongue-gasming layers of flavors and textures, you can expect to get down and dirty with more modern takes on classic dishes like chicken wings, ribs, ceviches, salads, Asian noodles, soups rice, beans and more.
Most everything I’ve tried at POKE has lived up to the bomb ass promise: sweet, spicy, savory, tangy, fruity, herby, meaty; food that masters the skill of mix n’ matching flavor profiles. Three of my favorite POKE dishes include the ceviche, salmon poke and ahi tuna poke. The salmon poke (shown above to the left) has fresh salmon, cucumber, mango, red onion in a ginger soy sesame dressing – all components that balance each other so nicely, especially the sweetness of the mango in the fingerscrapingthebowl dressing. The other ceviches I’ve tried have been spot on as well, spicy, citricy, packed with fresh, high quality goodness.
Another one of my favorites, and generally my go-to order, is the Costa Rican Casado. A take on the traditional Costa Rican dish (that I ate almost daily when I was in Costa Rica) that’s made with a variation of a protein (beef, chicken or pork) and served with rice, black beans, fried plantains, small salad and tortilla.
This version kicks it up about 100 notches, with Korean kalbi marinated steak on top of a cilantro sushi rice patty and served with fresh black beans, salsa fresca and a spicy Peruvian ají de huacatay sauce – the ultimate fusion dish packed with the ultimate level awesomeness.
Lettuce wraps filled with chicken-peanuty sensualness, bright and crisp, I could eat these all day long.
The chicken karaage (Japanese style deep fried chicken wings) is coated in such a grease crunching fried goodness and drenched in a heavenly savorysweet sauce. While the sauce is so good I wish I could buy it by the bottle, the first time I ordered the alitas it came out a bit too soggily oiled and did’t have that crispy exterior I wanted. The second time they were much better, freshly fried and with a crunchy shell, but the chicken had very little meat on her bones.
Plain and simple, cold peanut sesame noodles. Another sauce that should be sold by the bottle, it’s a simple dish that is incredibly addictive and something I really need to start making at home more often.
Teaming up yet again with Buenos Aires Delivery, POKE now is delivering their delectables every Wednesday to the Palermo area. I ordered the first night they offered it and my order was messed up, ending up paying more for not getting what I ordered. Ultimately the food was so good that I really didn’t care. These days staying in, watching a prime MonsterDivx line up and eating POKE is like my wet dream version of rolling. Pathetic? Maybe. I don’t get out much.
Some other cons beyond the delivery mess up? If I had to complain a la fat girl who is also a cheap ass, I’d say that the prices are high in relation to the smaller, tapas-sized portions. And it’s only available Wednesday nights, which isn’t the most convenient. It’s rare that I over zealously rave about food, but POKE just makes me so incredibly happy, giving me reality slaps to the groin in remembrance of what real, good food actually tastes like.
*Read on about Pop-up restaurants in Buenos Aires in the Argentina Independent.
**Stay tuned to watch me completely embarrass myself as I make my Argentine television debut, filmed at POKE in Magdalena’s Party, for the Telenoche (Canal 13) program for Taggeados.