Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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March 25, 2023

Mana Poke, Edinburgh, review - get healthy with Hawaiian-inspired bowls

There is more to the weekend than cake

Sunday night is usually when the shame kicks in.

I don’t have a lot of self control over the weekends. Cake, chocolate, crisps, cocktails, cheese - all the Cs go down the hatch, except for the health-promoting ones, like cruciferous veg or crudites.

It’s just as well that you can’t develop scurvy or rickets over two days. Well, not as far as I know, though maybe I should suck on a lime, round about Antiques Roadshow airing time, just to be sure.

However, there is help at hand, courtesy of this place. 

In 2017, it started out as a street food offering, which involved appearing at festivals, markets and pop-ups, before opening a permanent venue in Canonmills back in 2021. They offer the eponymous Hawaiian-inspired cold dish, pronounced pow-kay, with a base of rice, along with customisable toppings, including a protein, usually raw salmon, veggies and other trimmings. It became hugely trendy a few years ago, via its place of origin, then California, to London and, eventually, Scotland, though we definitely don’t have a saturated market. The capital has a handful of places, if you want to do the hokey poké, and turn around. 

I certainly did but, as I was prostrate under the electric overblanket, surrounded by wrappers and staging a couch all-dayer, I was very happy that Mana Poké delivers. 

Their venue operates mainly as a takeaway, though there are some window seats.

You can order their food through Deliveroo, Uber Eats or the nice Edinburgh-based one, Foodstuff, which only delivers for independents, like SandoThe Banh Mi BarWanderers Kneaded and Harajuku Kitchen, and pays its staff the living wage.

I felt a bit bad when one of its cyclists, with his big pink rucksack, brought my order. I know that ride. All uphill. He looked a bit wabbit, as he handed me the brown paper bag with my name scribbled on the side.

We’d gone for three varieties of regular-sized poké to eat in front of the goggle box. That’s as well as two smoothies - the mango (£3.50), with the billed ingredient, pineapple and banana, and a green colada (£3.50), which contained avocado, pineapple and spinach. Both were creamy, frothy, cold and, like Mr Muscle down a drain, sloughed away the unhealthy stuff that was clogging my oesophagus.

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Our favourite of the three bowls was the Classic Poké Bowl (£8.95). From the pick-and-mix choice of proteins, I’d gone for salmon, rather than tofu, avocado, prawns or other options, so the helping of sushi rice was topped with soft cubes of this fish in their addictive tamari and sesame sauce. There was also red-cabbage-heavy Asian slaw, chopped roasted peanuts, sesame seeds and cucumber.

Nutty is my favourite flavour, and this was catnip for squirrels. Tuftynip.

I probably should have asked them to hold the Sriracha and spicy mayo, for health reasons, but, oopsy, forgot. Those pink condiments were splurged over the top.

We also tried the Ponzu Poké Bowl (£9.95), with about a dozen fat prawns, each of which was laminated in a mildly acidic ponzu sauce and a speckling of toasted sesame seeds. There was also more of that slaw, and the sauces and pickled cucumber, as well as half a sliced avocado. It was perfectly ripe. I have been served hard ones and yukky black ones. This silky beast made me happy.

The Firewater Poké Bowl (£9.95, GF) was the hottie, and my husband commandeered it, since he’s pretty certain that spice is the cure for an impending cold and he was feeling a bit blah. I’d gone for the tofu and avocado for this one, and though the protein was plain, the fire-y “Hawaiian style chilli” ingredient made up for that. I dodged the red chunks, as if they were land mines, and picked at the pineapple salsa and crispy shallots instead.

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Anyway, I enjoyed this dinner as much as I would, say fish and chips, a curry or the usual stuff that people are supposed to enjoy on a weekend.

I remembered that I love healthy food, especially when it’s as excellent as this. You don’t have to have a pizza, to have a good time. 

I’ll swap poké for the cheese and chocolate, or maybe I’ll do both. Knees bent, arms stretched ra-ra-ra.

Classic poke

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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