Words & Deeds

Panda Garden vanishes, new restaurant appears. What happened? Something fishy

Hawaiian style poké bowls are booming in the Treasure Valley

New eateries in Boise and Meridian now feature the raw-fish option to sushi rolls. Paddles Up Poké in Downtown Boise and Poké Bowl in Meridian are becoming popular stops for lunch and dinner crowds.
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New eateries in Boise and Meridian now feature the raw-fish option to sushi rolls. Paddles Up Poké in Downtown Boise and Poké Bowl in Meridian are becoming popular stops for lunch and dinner crowds.

Poke has arrived in the Treasure Valley. In fact, it’s poking other restaurants right out the door.

Fish Poke Bar recently opened at 2032 E. Overland Road in the former Panda Garden Chinese & Sushi restaurant space in Meridian.

Panda Garden is still in business at 2801 W. Overland Road in Boise. There are no plans to convert that into a poke restaurant, owner Peter Qiu says. But he’s planning another poke place for Boise. More on that in a sec.

Poke, pronounced “POH-kay,” is a Hawaiian raw-fish style that’s become trendy recently. It’s the focus of two other new restaurants that opened earlier this year in the Treasure Valley: Poke Bowl at 2970 N. Eagle Road in Meridian, and Paddles Up Poke at 237 N. 9th St. in Downtown Boise. Paddles Up also plans to open a new location in March 2018 at 13601 W. McMillan Road.

When I interviewed Paddles Up owner Dan Landucci about his planned new restaurant last week, he said part of his business plan was to expand quickly. He mentioned Panda Garden converting to Fish Poke Bowl, and referred to the Boise-area phenomenon as a “poke craze.”

Like Paddles Up and Poke Bowl, Fish Poke Bar is all about building your own bowl with ingredients such as rice, greens, sauce and protein. Poke bowls range in price from $9.99 to $15.99.

Fish Poke Bar has retained some of Panda Garden’s fare. Sixteen types of sushi are on the menu. Wine and beer are sold, too, if you were wondering.

Need even more poke? Qiu says that he plans to open a second Fish Poke Bar in a few months at 770 S. Vista Ave. in Boise. Watch for that by spring.

Online: idahofishpokebar.com.

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