Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fins Splashes Down in South OC

Fins Poke Fusion
28251 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

If there's any food that has broken out more than poke in the second decade of this new century, I'm not sure what it could be. Yes, kale and quinoa have had their time in the spotlight, but lets be honest, these foods are awful. At least cubed pieces of seafood is something that almost all of us can agree is better than kale or quinoa.

You can also judge the popularity of poke by the amount of it that has become available all of a sudden. A simple Yelp search turns up 17 restaurants that serve poke, or have poke in their name. For the most part, all of these restaurants are in the northern part of OC. You can now add another poke option for people south of Irvine, with the opening of Fins Poke Fusion.

Fins is located in the old Sushi Zone spot, and is run by the same owners. Sushi Zone was an all you can eat sushi place, which saw its profits dry up after fish prices went through the roof. Not wanting to sacrifice the high quality of fish they used, Co-Owners Peter Cho and Moby Duncan had to make a decision about what to do with their restaurant. They made the wise decision to ditch the AYCE option and create a build your own poke bowl place.

Fins switched to this new format in March, and is having their grand opening this month. I heard about this place by reading Edwin's review in the OC Weekly. You can see his review here. I've now been here two times, and the first time was after the switch over to poke, but before they had remodeled the inside. The ordering process was more choppy then, with an ordering process that could best be described as awkward. It used to be that you ordered at the register and went to your table and waited for your poke to be brought out. This resulted in a few of the orders coming out wrong.

Now the process is more like a Chipotle, you walk along with the person making your masterpiece, and can have them add and customize your poke just the way you like it. A much better way to order this. Also the first time we were here they gave you a separate bowl for the poke, and you had to mix it with your base yourself. Now they serve everything in the same bowl, which made the second trip way more enjoyable for me. Here are a few shots of the food during our first visit.

Even though it was awkward eating the poke this way, it was still very fresh, and everything tasted great. We loved all the options, and the serving size was more than generous at Fins. Let's see how our second, more successful trip to Fins was.

The new improved ordering process at Fins was much easier to follow. There are signs at each station letting you know what options are available, and the people behind the counter were also on hand to answer all of your questions as well. You start with what size of poke bowl you want, small, medium, or large. Then you choose what kind of base you are in the mood for, mixed greens or white or brown rice. At Fins you have the option of tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, shrimp, albacore, or they may have a special selection from time to time. There are also three sauces to choose from, a spicy mayo sauce, a house made ponzu sauce, or a more traditional poke sauce, sesame shoyu. The last step is to complete your perfect poke bowl with any extra toppings at an additional charge. These include, avocado, crab meat, scallops, jalapenos, and more. These range in price from 50 cents to a dollar per item.

Here's a look at our finished poke bowls. I went with the Big Kahuna (large $10.95) sized bowl which came with 7 ounces of cubed tuna, with a base of brown rice. I also added garlic chips, jalapenos, avocado, and their spicy mayo and ponzu sauce. Again the fish was fresh and delicious, the garlic chips were stronger than I imagined they would be and added a new element to my poke creation. They were a little light on the sauce, so I had my great friend Daniele go up and get some more for me. She did so begrudgingly, but I convinced her it would be in her best interest to complete this task for me. The spicy mayo sauce, which they call Kilauea is not really spicy, but more of a thousand island type sauce, without the pickles. The jalapenos picked up the slack for the non-spiciness of the sauce, as these little guys really packed a punch. A very filling dinner which left me full, but not lethargic.

We are so happy that we went to Fins a second time. Glad to see all the kinks have been ironed out with the ordering process and the way the food is served. They are also working on updating the dining area, which is nearing the process of being finished. At these build your own meal kind of places it always a challenge finding your perfect combination of items, but so far the journey at Fins has been pretty good. We look forward to going back again soon, and perfecting our ultimate poke bowl. Glad to see that South OC has another option for poke, and we heard whispers that there might be a new Fins location opening soon. We'll keep you posted.

Out of five orca whales, (because the mascot for the Vancouver Canucks is an orca whale named Fin), five being best to zero being worst, Fins Poke Fusion gets 3 orca whales.

Fins Poke Fusion has a very limited website, but there are links to their social media outlets by clicking here:

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