Poke has been popping up all over Sydney in different iterations. The next to join the ranks is Bondi Junction’s Kingfish – a casual, hip-hop-inspired poke bar, co-owned by Ed Devlin and Emma Knowles, the couple behind nearby Waverley staple Ruby’s Diner.
“I’ve had an extensive love affair with hip-hop: I owned a hip-hop record store and was part of a hip-hop group in the nineties,” says Devlin. “It’s great to bring my two loves – food and music – together.”
The idea’s clearest incarnation is a mural that presides over the glass poke bar’s ingredients: it’s a portrait of Tupac with his famous “thug life” tattoo swapped out for one that reads “fish life”. Otherwise, the design is straightforward, and Knowles’s doing. The space is kitted out with industrial elements and finished with graffiti accents of the Kingfish logo.
The theme defines the menu. If you build your own bowl, you are a “mix master” combining a “bassline” (choose from sushi, matcha or brown rice, shaved cabbage or zucchini noodles), a “beat” (salmon, tuna, kingfish, chicken, tofu or egg) with a “flava” (an extensive selection of house-made dressings). If you choose from one of the signature bowls, there is the kingfish-based Eight Mile (a white fish for Eminem), the tofu-based Jay Z (apparently, Jay Z is a sometimes vegan) and the Kendrick (a chicken-based poke that nods to Kendrick’s father’s work in a chicken shop).
Eyebrow-raising hip-hop associations aside, house-made ferments are at the heart of this menu, also designed by Knowles. They feature in all of Kingfish’s signature bowls and bring a little punch to the poke. Pickled options include a cabbage-and-seaweed ferment, and carrots, ginger and shitake mushrooms alongside the house kimchi. There’s also the option to wrap your poke in a flour tortilla. For this, the tortilla is first warmed and then wrapped around the poke’s warm rice and chilled fish and salad ingredients.
Beverage options are kept simple. Sparkling water and kombucha are on tap alongside cups of filter coffee and chilled, sparkling green tea.