Mandala Poké. The success of poké joints
The universe of poké, like all exotic trends that suddenly blow up in our latitudes, is always viewed with distrust by those in search of a wide-ranging gastronomic experience. And certainly the many fast food chains dedicated to the Hawaiian-inspired specialty aren’t helping to make people passionate about the genre, which all end up looking a little alike: in the bright colours of the settings, in the set of menus designed to facilitate lunch breaks, in the choice of ingredients that don’t always shine for quality and freshness. But can eaters approach the world of poké in a different way? The market, which still seems inclined to reward it, invites us to take the challenge. Mandala Poké is a restaurant project born in Rome, already boasting two branches (Ostiense area and Eur Laurentina) open between summer and early autumn, almost quietly (in the capital there are already several places dedicated to recipes from Hawaii). Behind the idea there are four partners: William Dainese, Alessandro Pagnani, Marco Tullio and Walter Regolanti. And this is not a case of homonymy.
Mandala Poké and Romolo al Porto’s seafood
The Regolanti brothers, owners of the Romolo al Porto restaurant at the Port of Anzio, are known throughout the Lazio coast for the serious work of selecting and valuing the fish product of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which they have been serving for years in their restaurant. Joining the Mandala Poké project is therefore a good guarantee of seriousness, which presents itself as an “all-Italian” poké joint in the selection of raw materials – raw fish, previously blast frozen, cut into cubes which is the backbone of pokè – and in the choice of processes that enhance it, with all homemade sauces. In this specific case, in accordance with the poké tradition which mainly uses salmon and tuna, not caught from the Lazio coast (except for the variant with white fish, arriving from the Anzio auction); but the Regolanti brothers take care of the selecting with rigor, guaranteeing the respect of adequate processing techniques (the fresh fish is immediately blast frozen, then filleted and put to marinate).
Mandala Poké. Menu and prices
Yet the price of bowls and tartares remains low – 9.90 euros for a bowl, 13.50 for the large version; 11 euros for the tartare – within an informal and accessible context. The idea is to adhere to a franchise based on the certified supply chain of the raw material, under the motto of “fresh fish, enjoyed Italian.” For now, the two sales points work in a complementary way, for take out and delivery there’s the restaurant in Ostiense; while on site site dining is at the Laurentina branch. The recipes don’t change: the Evergreen is made with white rice, salmon, avocado, tomatoes, pistachios, ponzu sauce, black sesame and cornflakes; the Piccante with white rice, salmon, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, sultanas, black sesame and spicy sauce; or a more Mediterranean Nostrana, Basmati rice combined with white fish, cauliflower, red cabbage, dried walnuts, dried tomatoes, lemon sauce, white sesame. Bowls are studied and balanced in their ingredients, which however customers can customize according to their choice, adding different proteins, condiments, toppings. The tartare, on the other hand, is prepared express, and only in two variants, tuna or salmon: the Sfiziosa with tuna, tomato and crispy almonds, and the Pura with salmon, tomato and pistachio, with or without the addition of avocado. Beverages include craft beer, or fruit and vegetable smoothies.
Mandala Poké – Rome – via Leopoldo Traversi, 26 / via dei Corazzieri, 77/75 – www.mandalapoke.it