Ono Poké Opens at Cross Street Market

| July 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

Ono Poké opened on Saturday in a 280 sq. ft stall at the newly-renovated Cross Street Market. This completes Ono Poké’s relocation from 413 W. Baltimore St. Downtown to Federal Hill. Ono Poké is a Hawaiian concept from Jason Jiau, who grew up working at his family’s Joss Cafe & Sushi Bar in Annapolis.

The ono in the name is from the Hawaiian word ‘ono, which is commonly defined as meaning delicious. Jiau went on a family vacation to Hawaii in 2000 and fell in love with the culture and cuisine of the islands. Soon after the trip they added their own version of ahi tuna poké to the menu at Joss Café.

While sushi and poké both feature raw fish, Ono Poké’s motto is “not sushi in a bowl.” Jiau, who’s mother grew up in Nagoya, Japan, noted that poké is not sushi nor a Japanese dish, but rather something with deep Hawaiian tradition and recipes. Jiau has taken several trips to Hawaii to learn more about poké and Hawaiian dishes, as well as to develop closer relationships with fish vendors.

As opposed to some poké restaurants that offer a build-your-own poké bowl concept, Ono Poké’s focus is on signature bowls which Jiau said is how it’s done in Hawaii. He said the poké in Hawaii is like at delis where pasta salads are already made.

Ono Poké makes all of its own sauces and uses sashimi-grade fish. Bowls, which range from $11 t0 $13, include the Ono Original with ahi tuna, ono garlic shoyu, cold pressed sesame oil, sweet onion, scallion, sesame seed, hijiki, edamame, and fried shallot; the Smooth-N-Spicy with ahi tuna, creamy spicy aioli, avocado, cucumber, jalapeno, scallion, habanero masago, sesame seed; the Veggie Poké with avocado, marinated shiitake, citrus shoyu vinaigrette, cucumber, hijiki, edamame, scallion, fried shallot; the Chili Garlic with cooked shrimp, ono garlic shoyu, chili garlic sauce, habanero masago, scallion, ichimi togarashi, sesame seed, fried shallot; and the Lomi Lomi with salmon, citrus shoyu vinaigrette, tomato, sweet onion, scallion, and sesame seed.

Additional items include the Spam Musubi which is a marinated Hawaiian-style Spam on top of a ball of rice; an avocado smoothie; the Haupia Smoothies which have whipped coconut cream and powered sugar; and juice Aloha Main P.O.G. (passion fruit, orange, guava).

Ono Poké’s stall is adjacent to Cans Filling Station and Old Line Cocktail and Wine Bar. Jiau is hoping to do some cross promotions to pair up dishes that complement the drinks at the two bars.

Jiau said just like in Hawaii, Ono Poké will be very “eco-conscious” as the materials used will all be compostable.

The stall at Ono Poké has bright colors, white subway tile, a surfboard-shaped sign, and incorporates its pineapple mascot. Jiau said his concept is a better fit for a marketplace than an entire storefront.

Jiau has been a long-time fan of Federal Hill and remembers when Cross Street Market used to be a lively lunch spot for people visiting the Inner Harbor and workers in the central business district Downtown. “CANAdev (leasing team at Cross Street Market) is doing something pretty awesome down here and hopefully it will spark the entire neighborhood,” he said.

Jiau said it’s a great opportunity to be in a market around so many other “right-minded” vendors, which will eventually total 22. He said the market was “tactfully done” without much overlap of concepts and a “great diversity of offerings.”

Ono Poké is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 9pm, and Sundays from 11am to 6pm. Ono Poké and the entire Cross Street Market will be closed on July 4th this week.

One Poké will have about five to six employees.

Read SouthBMore.com’s articles detailing the different aspects of the Cross Street Market redevelopment here.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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