Pokéology in Rice Village invites patrons in for a close-up study of poke, complete with customizable bowls and pleasant outdoor patio seating in the space it shares with the bar Doc Holliday’s. Owner Jason Liao (he had Preview Modern Seafood in Sugar Land) snagged a prime location on Morningside Drive next to Little Woodrow’s and opened in mid-January as Houston’s poke craze launched.

We recently stopped in for a casual lunch to see how Liao’s poke bowls reflect his sushi chef background and refined taste. Bowls come in two sizes: lite ($10) and full ($12). The bowls might look a little small at first, but they’re filled snugly with plenty of rice, fish and toppings. In addition to custom poke bowls that you design yourself, there are also signature bowls such as the Classic Tuna or Salmon, spicy options Tuna Yuzuviche or Salmon Thaiviche, Applemachi, Shaggy Bowl and Sun Kiss Ono.

Building a bowl involves five steps: Choose the foundation layer (white rice or spring salad mix), then a variety of vegetables (onions, cucumbers, cilantro), seafood type (tuna, salmon, spicy salmon or snow crab), sauce flavor (kimchi mayo, honey wasabi, sweet dragon) and extra toppings (seaweed salad, masago (fish roe), ginger).

Salmon Thaiviche bowl at Pokéology

Salmon Thaiviche bowl at Pokéology

We opted to try two of the signature bowls, and the first thing we noticed was the generous portion of fish. We chose the Classic Salmon bowl (photo at top) with extra toppings of seaweed salad and ginger, and the Salmon Thaiviche (photo above) with extra cucumbers and seaweed salad. Both bowls featured fresh large chunks of fish slick with just enough sauce to create a nice balance between tasting the sea and tasting the sauce. The Salmon Thaiviche carried only a hint of a spicy kick along with some sprinkled bits of peanuts for crunchy texture while the Classic Salmon nodded to the traditional Hawaiian version with simple dressing and an homage to sesame.

Parking in Rice Village might be tricky (as usual), but as the weather warms up, Pokéology would be a refreshing place to grab some fresh fish for a meal and lounge out on the patio.

We hear that a “sushi donut” (and a Heights location of Pokeology at 2313 Edwards) could open as early as July 2017.

Pokeology, 5555 Morningside Dr. bet. Rice & University, 281-915-8128, pokeology.com
Hours: Tues. to Sat. 11:30 am to 11 pm; Sun. 11:30 am to 4 pm