Fish Face Poke Bar officially opened last night to long lines and not enough ahi tuna.
By 7:30 p.m., Billy Ngo’s newest spot in the WAL Public Market (1104 R Street) ran out of tuna and salmon. I didn’t mind. The octopus was tender and the sturgeon tasted like the ocean.
Fish Face is chiefly a to-go poke stand, inspired by the shops that dish out raw fish salad by weight in Hawaii. There, you’d stare at pre-made combinations—kimchi octopus, sesami tuna, spicy shrimp—before making a decision. At Fish Face, you build your own salad.
First choose your protein (tuna, octopus, shrimp, salmon, sturgeon or tofu for the vegetarians), then your sauce (sesame soy, spicy kimchi, wasabi, cliantro pesto, yuzu ponzu), then a bunch of additions for 50 cents to $2 apiece. Depending on the size, your poke starts at $8-$16 and the cost could definitely add up quick. But you don’t need to add anything. All pokes come with onions, seaweed, sesame seeds and one free sauce, and that’s already plenty delicious.
Fish Face also serves $4 to-go handrolls—simple options such as shrimp-avocado-cucumber or salmon-onions-chili oil.
Prior to Fish Face, no restaurant served such an abundance of poke—something relegated to the Japanese restaurant appetizer menu and the occasional farmers market vendor or grocer. But poke is getting trendy on the mainland, and already another business is getting ready to compete with Fish Face: Wrap N’ Roll Sushi Burrito announced on Facebook that it’s launching Make Fish Poke & Sushi Burrito.