Editor's note: Every week, we'll spotlight a culinary treat found around Dallas-Fort Worth — whether it's a new opening, a dish at a restaurant, or a grocery find.
Dish: Vegan poke, $9.50
Location: Flower Child in Addison
Flower Child, the healthy fast-casual restaurant from Fox Restaurant Concepts, just opened a location in Addison on December 5, at 5290 Belt Line Rd., in what used to be a Pollo Tropical space.
This is the second DFW location. The chain made its local debut in 2017, when it opened what has become a hugely successful location at Inwood Village. Addison has a lot of restaurant competition these days, but people on Facebook say they are happy to have another location where they won't have to wait.
Besides, Flower Child is fun, with a youthful, upbeat vibe, a bright and cheery color scheme, and an Austin-style, easy-come-easy-go atmosphere. The food is healthy-ish and good, with bowls, salads, sandwiches, sides, and trendy dishes like hummus and avocado toast.
With the Addison opening, they introduced two new vegan dishes: vegan ramen and vegan poke, both created by the chain to mark November as Vegan Month.
Vegan ramen is a not-uncommon item offered by numerous ramen restaurants; they make a vegetable-based broth and substitute in tofu. But you don't see vegan poke too often.
Their ramen was spicy and good, and smartly conceived. There were noodles, crumbled tofu, flecks of seaweed to give it a seafoody flavor, and chili oil for a lip-smacking heat.
The poke was also clever, as long as you're willing to forego the true definition of poke as being "Hawaiian-style raw tuna." I was totally willing to do that and just enjoy this dish as a "throw a bunch of cut-up stuff together in a bowl" experience, which is not my preferred way of dining, but these are the kinds of things you do for science.
At the bottom of the bowl was nubby short brown rice with the same moist chewy texture as sushi rice. Marinated beet was cut into bite-size al dente squares. There was fresh radish, sliced paper-thin; thick slices of avocado; and slices of pickled ginger.
The "tuna" stand-in was portabella mushroom, marinated, cooked to the point of tenderness to mimic raw fish, and diced into small cubes. Did it taste like tuna? Does raw tuna really have a taste?
You could probably tell the difference if you were blindfolded. But if in fact raw tuna does not really have a taste (and it really kind of does not), then the textural experience was a close match and a cunning fake. Combined with the rice, the sesame seeds, the ginger, it was a great dish.
12-7-2018 UPDATE: A representative from the company says that my assessment of which ingredient is the faux tuna is incorrect, stating: "There are pickled mushrooms in the dish, but it is actually the marinated beets that are prepared and cut to mimic the 'tuna' flavor and consistency."