Austin’s downtown culinary scene has a new face on the block offering fresh ingredients in a beautiful setting, and after a recent visit, I’d have to say it’s left a pretty positive impact on my palate.
Malibu poke’s overall atmosphere is worth noting, with vibrant colors, large windowed walls and a combination of relaxed hip hop and pop, this is easily a goto lunch spot in downtown Austin. The decor from door to dining tables is energizing, but the one thing I have to complain about is their recyclable straws. If you’re one to take your time enjoying your meal, the straw serves as a personal timer. Once it gets too wet, it’s a wrap. Aside from that, this is an easily instagrammable poke spot.
The house menu offers about nine standard bowls, which each have their own unique flavor, and with the more than 60,000 possible combinations, it's easy to create a delicious bowl that will leave you surprised and satisfied — even for a novice like myself. If you’re stopping in for the first time, they’ve got a great staff that’s knowledgeable about all of their options and ingredients, and you can order at one of their kiosks, which make the ordering process even easier.
I started off with the tropical chimichurri shrimp, which includes scallions, carrots, mango, jicama and micro radish and tastes amazing! Even without a sauce I could really appreciate the flavor profile that the chefs have created with this bowl. I'm really impressed with the seaweed blend, which consists of four different species of seaweed that they marinate in house. That, paired with the fish really gave my bowl a coastal vibe that seafood fans would be hard pressed to anywhere else this far inland.
If you’re going the customized route I'd recommend getting the blended base; having brown rice makes for a nice texture to build on, but mixing in their seaweed or kale adds a nice layer of flavor. The bonito aioli really has amazing creamy texture with just the right light flavor, and the Malibu sauce provides a kick that just sets any bowl over the edge. I really enjoyed the use and inclusion of fresh fruits like the Asian pear because it provides a light taste to the bowl helping to ensure that the flavor profile doesn't get bogged down by the acidity of the of the sauces.
One thing that's impressive is the portion size. Even in their small bowls, Malibu Poke delivers a hearty serving of fresh, delicious ingredients in each bite. I will admit the price point is a bit higher than some other poke-focused eateries in town, but part of the price is likely paying for the vibe and atmosphere, but also the quality of ingredients that they provide.
If you’re in downtown Austin, I’d definitely recommend giving Malibu Poke a try sometime soon.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.