Review: PONO superfood bar, Norwich - 'A raw fish emporium that takes health seriously'
PUBLISHED: 16:27 29 July 2019
No matter who you are, you've probably got an opinion about raw fish. It is a food that divides us, and leaves none in the middle.
An admitted lover of all things sushi, reporter Bethany Wales headed to PONO superfood bar to investigate.
Behind glass and beneath green vines, the first thing that strikes you at Norwich's newest raw fish emporium is that this is a place that takes your health seriously.
It is clean and airy. A refrigerator displays a rainbow of organic drinks and a selection of chocolate (the fancy kind that costs £4 and contains almost none of the ingredients found in Cadburys).
PONO specialises in Poké, Hawaiian style sushi bowls, chunks of Ahi tuna or salmon atop a colour wheel of raw vegetables and brown rice.
The menu is built on Instagram worthy salads and poké bowls, but the smoothie bowls, adorned with fresh berries, cacao nibs and homemade granola, might be the most beautiful offering.
I opted for the flagship, a spicy salmon poké bowl, and I added avocado because I am nothing if not a product of my times.
My partner Kyle replaced the salmon with ahi tuna.
Portions were generous, overflowing with colourful goodness; crisp green cucumber, yellow jewels of sweet corn and pineapple, shreds of purple of cabbage and a healthy drizzle of creamy sesame dressing to provide welcome tang.
The vegetables were raw and snapped with the vigour of produce cut that morning, and pickled ginger cut through their clean flavour with characteristic warmth.
The fish was the obvious star of the dish. It was brilliant, and added needed depth and richness to a fresh, but otherwise standard salad.
Kyle, in his enthusiasm, wolfed down his tuna immediately and as a result found his final cabbage-heavy bites lack lustre.
I rationed my salmon and immensely enjoyed my meal through to the last forkful, but could have done with less raw cabbage if I'm being picky.
Despite concerns my appetite would not be satisfied by a dish comprised of 80pc raw vegetables, I wasn't left hungry.
That said, my sweet tooth is insatiable, and we couldn't resist sampling the gluten free, sugar free, vegan, chocolate. It tasted like its unhealthy counterpart but the texture was chalky, and I suspect most chocolate lovers would be left scratching their heads. The almond croissant, on the other hand, was perfect.
Clean, cool, light wood and high stalls. The minimal décor allows the small space to feel remarkably open.
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Yoga-studio meets beach-side café. Quiet chill-mix plays in the background and beautiful people drift in and out, stashing takeaway salads in hemp tote bags.
Friendly and relaxed. You order at the bar but servers insist on table service once your meal is prepped.
As well as a standard coffee menu, PONO has an array of speciality drinks, including turmeric and black pepper infused coconut milk and hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond butter. I went for a salted caramel mocha which was thick, nutty and not overly sweet. Portion sizes are on the small size for their £3.50 price tag, but the quality is there.
The space is incredibly tight and the tables all high, which would make dining in problematic for those in wheelchairs.
Clean, bright, fine.
PONO's location on St Giles Street means it is near a number of city centre car parks. The closest, the St Giles Multi Story, is less than five minutes away by foot.
Poké bowls are £8.25, and we paid an extra £1 for a generous helping of avocado. Our chocolate bar was £3.95, which for six small squares seemed excessive. Speciality drinks came in at £3.95, but an Americano would have been cheaper at £2.30.
The salmon was fantastic. Perfectly marinated, fresh and rich, I could have eaten bowls of it.
PONO is a wonderful little spot if you're looking to splash out on a salad and leave feeling full, not flabby.
Fresh, quality ingredients marry perfectly with rich seasoning and some of the best raw fish I have eaten in Norwich. Those offended by millennials are advised to order to-go.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.