Poki Poki serves delicious fresh seafood dishes

Poki Poki Cevicheria in Wyoming opened recently, and the restaurant has the wherewithal to survive and thrive in its new digs.

This is the second location; the original is next to the University of New Mexico in the Brick Light District.

Poki Poki Cevicheria recently opened its second location, in Wyoming and Comanche NE. (Jason K. Watkins/For the newspaper)

A young couple and their cute toddler sat next to me at a long communal table, also trying out the restaurant for the first time.

“It’s like sushi,” the woman said. “Cheaper sushi.”

They ordered shrimp or fish bowls, almost bursting with protein and decorated with complex dressings on top. She also commented on the richness of the flavor and they debated whether they would return.

Poki’s setup is familiar: diners order at the counter and customize their bowls with a “base” of rice, protein (raw ahi and yellowfin sushi are the most popular options, but shrimp, ceviche, chicken and even vegetarian options are available), and then they find a seat.

On a recent visit, and overwhelmed with the choices, I let the guy at the counter walk me through. We opted for a traditional teriyaki-style bowl of chicken, and at his suggestion, I opted for a delicious, rich poke sauce, chunks of tomato and pineapple, green onions, and a perfectly cooked brisket protein. chicken marinated in soy sauce.

The bowl was delicious and filling. With the options I chose, the price was around $12 – which seems to be about average for an individual dinner – so not expensive but not cheap.

Considering the service and uniqueness of flavor, that’s a lot. Factor in sushi-grade raw fish. and Poki Poki is actually a pretty affordable place for your seafood fix.

And if he could overcome an obstacle or two, Poki Poki could become a neighborhood standard.

The place shares space with a few other businesses in one of Albuquerque’s most complex buildings. The entrance is difficult to find. Next door is a new brasserie with a nicely appointed interior, but it doesn’t serve food. A cafe around the corner also attracts traffic and parking is a nightmare.

Unless the remaining space is occupied by an office with no foot traffic, parking will get even worse and this will frustrate and eventually drive away regulars. Poki Poki needs to put up better signs to help guide people inside.

The exterior of the building resembles a dentist’s office and the interior feels like it belongs next to the university. There is a bar attached in a hallway and another bar in the corner of the restaurant (both unstaffed when I visited) and another level upstairs with more seating (presumably private).

Common seating downstairs was the only option apart from a few tables in the adjoining bar or outside on the small patio. Makes me think the place would make a decent quick stop to eat on the way home or during lunch, but not necessarily a place to relax and enjoy a meal.

Physical issues aside, Poki Poki serves delicious, fresh food and is definitely worth a visit. Whether the food is good enough to overcome the obstacles in its path remains to be seen, but with a few minor tweaks, Poki Poki is likely to stick around.

2 stars

Dino S. Williams