Tropical Paradise Finds a Home in Cos Cob
The opportunity to review Island Fin Poke was born out of a chance meeting at everyone’s favorite bank, The First Bank of Greenwich. In on my weekly run to deposit checks and say hello, Frank Gaudio introduced me to the man who brought Island Fin Poke to Greenwich, Jamie Darnow, who invited me to come in for a taste.
The very next day, my mother and I were in ordering some delicious poke. For those who may not be in the know, Poke is a Hawaiian-style food of raw fish served with a variety of bases in toppings.
So the way it works at Island Fin Poke is you get to chose from three bases, eight choices of protein, five mix-ins, five marinating sauces, twenty-one toppings, five finishing sauces, and four premium toppings. I’ll be taking you through four (very different) bowls my mother and I constructed, but you can see their full menu list on their website.
The bowl I constructed had sushi rice base; ahi tuna and salmon protein; corn, edamame, and OG veggies (sweet onions and jalapenos that marinate in gluten-free soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, and rice vinegar) mix-ins; wicked wahine (palm sugar, fresh lime juice, Sambal Olek Chili garlic paste, and premium gluten-free soy sauce) marinating sauce; furikake, pineapple, crispy onions, seaweed salad, tempura flake, and nori topping; togarashi (premium mayo, chili paste, sesame oil, wildflower honey, and togarashi spices blended to a creamy finish) and ono ono (vegan – Franks Sweet Thai Chili, fresh cilantro, fresh scallions, chili paste, and ginger paste) finishing sauce; and Masago premium topping. The bowl I ate my first time going was a burst of flavor. I felt like I was sitting on a warm beach, not in an ailing Connecticut November. The spice was there but it wasn’t overwhelming, just a nice numbing sensation. The flavors all worked well together and I wasn’t wanting for anything else. I also enjoyed a vanilla agave soda with my meal from their special Stubborn Soda fountain, delish.
The bowl my mother constructed consisted of brown rice base; spicy tuna and salmon protein; OG veggies and edamame mix-ins; OG marinating sauce (sweet onions and fresh jalapeños marinated overnight with a blend of gluten-free soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, and rice vinegar); mango topping; togarashi finishing sauce; and avocado premium topping. While her bowl was much more simple than mine, that’s the beauty of Island Fin Poke– your bowl is whatever you want it to be. Her spice level was much higher than mine with less of an emphasis on crunch but again all the flavors worked really well together.
We also got to enjoy some dole whip after our meal! We tried a swirl of their pineapple and watermelon flavors. They have rotating flavors of dole whip depending on the season. Dole whip is a dairy-free soft serve made from the fruit liquid also found in dole cups. For something dairy free it has a remarkably creamy consistency.
The vibe of the store itself is great, you can clearly see all of the ingredients while picking them out, the staff takes their time and explains everything you ask as many times as needed, and the tables are shaped like surfboards. I enjoyed Island Fin Poke so much so that as I was writing this review I decided to order them for lunch! Another great thing about Island Fin Poke is that they deliver right from their website. So my mother and I once again shared a lunch of Island Fin Poke. We decided to switch it up this time because while our bowls last time we positively scrumptious, this time my mom is on keto and I just love trying a bunch of combos until I find the most perfect one.
For lunch today I had the white rice base; ahi tuna protein; edamame and corn mix-ins; ponzu (premium gluten-free soy sauce mixed 50/50 with fresh orange, fresh lemon, and fresh lime juice) and wicked wahine marinating sauce; crispy garlic, crispy onions, furikake, pickled veggies, pineapple & mango salsa, seaweed salad, toasted coconut, tempura crisps, and nori topping; togarashi finishing sauce; and masago. The spice factor was definitely there this time. I wasn’t hurting but my mouth was definitely warm and numb for a while after I was done eating. The pickled veggies were a solid addition here and long-time readers will know I love a good crunch so I was pleased with how all of the different crisps and toasteds came together in a way that added some big punches of flavor. Their ponzu sauce is out of this world amazing, it’s definitely my favorite of their sauces but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
My mother went with the seaweed base; spicy tuna and salmon protein; no mix-ins; no marinating sauce; green onions, sesame seeds, and nori topping; avocado creme finishing sauce; and no premium toppings. Again, the poke bowl is so versatile it can be anything you want. When I asked her if she had any comments she said, “they’re fresh and exactly what I want plus the ingredients are high quality and I feel better after eating them.”
I once again had the opportunity to try their dole whip, but this time it was orange/pineapple swirl. The dole whip is nice because it’s usually a tangy fruit combo, so it’s a good palate cleanser. It’s also not too sweet, some people like to be absolutely taken out by the last bite of their meal (and I definitely can be that way as well) but there’s something to be said for a simple but strong ending.
Island Fin Poke has curated a selection of ingredients robust enough to delight the adventurous but familiar enough to entice the pickiest of palates. Every ingredient works together to create a symphony in a bowl. Since you can have such a variety of ingredients, you’re never bored because every bite is different. It seems there are no wrong answers when it comes to Island Fin Poke so make sure to stop it for a bite. Or two.
View our menu and then visit Greenwich Island Fin Poke today at 136. E. Putnam Ave, Cos Cob, or order online for pickup or delivery
View the original article January 7, 2023
by Greenwich Sentinel, Emma Barhydt