Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
Malibu Poke has solid bowls. The flavors they've put together in each just work, and something about those combinations makes you crave them. It helps that after eating here, you physically feel well, too.
But getting this food to go is tricky.
“In Japan, sushi is supposed to be eaten immediately when the sushi chef puts it in front of you,” Malibu owner Jon Alexis says. “In general, the faster you can eat your Malibu Poke, the better it will taste. And always get extra sauce because it drops to the bottom.”
Got it. Get extra sauce (they usually ask if you want some anyway) and speed to where you’re going.
Or do the thing so many of us are doing these days: Eat in your car. But because some of us have a nosy dog in the backseat who’s trying to ride shotgun and most of us don’t want to find crusty rice days later in a center cupholder, find a nearby place to have your meal.
Right now, Malibu only has its Oak Lawn location open in Dallas — Wednesday, it actually opened its dining room for just a few tables.
Ordering online is fairly easy, and you can set up your time for pickup. Now may be especially the time for that: On a recent visit, ordering lunch at 11 a.m. for a 12:30 p.m. pickup meant getting what we wanted. When we made the trip, masked and gloved staff members were telling customers (not all of whom were wearing masks) that they were out of sushi rice. Malibu has other options for the base: kale, cauliflower rice or brown rice. You can also get a combination of two.
The order is ready right on the dot of 12:30 p.m. A staff member pulls it out of the fridge below the counter, asks if we want extra sauce (yes, yes, more sauce), and we take our exit.
One nice thing, weather permitting, is there’s plenty of green space near here along Turtle Creek and at Reverchon Park. Parking is easier (there’s no time to waste parking and walking with this dish, obviously) at Reverchon Park, and there’s plenty of space to stay away from others.
The classic soy tuna has the right balance of everything with their Malibu sauce, marinated cucumbers, edamame, red onion, micro radish, chili thread and plenty of crispy shallot. If you’re sitting around thinking, “Damn, poke sounds good,” this is what you’re craving.
Our recent visit at the park included the wasabi-ponzu salmon bowl, which is fine, but loaded with orange, making it a bit more acidic than preferable. Along with that citrus is daikon, wasabi topiko, edamame, scallion, micro radish, arare and wasabi aioli. The sauce is a bit acidic, too, which is probably what puts this over the top, but the texture variations and fresh salmon over sushi rice still make this a perfectly fine lunch in a cloud-covered park.
The small bowl of this ($13.50) is enough food, even if the price feels like a lot for the meal. The thing is, the poke here is just good. No, it’s not cheap, but it’s also worth it.
Back to the park: Poke is good, but it’s lovely sitting on grass when the weather’s nice. What’s not nice is when a dog comes running up to try to enjoy it with you. It’s a good thing we’ve been told dogs don’t carry coronavirus. Sure, man across the way, your good yoga form you’re practicing over there is great, but how hard is it to leash your dog? Also, it’s against Dallas Parks ordinance #8019: dogs must remain on a leash.
Do that, and we’ll enjoy our poke in more peaceful environments, eh?
While we complain about leash-less dogs and mask-less people in public, Malibu Poke is “keeping [their] heads above water,” Alexis says for a seafood pun.
“We are waiting for the business work crowd to return [to] Uptown to reopen our McKinney and Olive location, but our Turtle Creek and downtown Austin locations are doing a lot of takeout and pickup,” he says. “Not ‘a lot,’ enough to keep the lights on.”
Alexis took a bit of time to open his dining room, as opposed to popping open May 1 when the state first permitted it; he says they had been waiting to hear scenarios from other restaurants. Now they’re ready, he says.
“We have to reopen the economy,” he says. “And the best way to do so is keeping public health as the priority. These are not two sides to a debate — they are two parts to the same plan.”
Malibu Poke, 3888 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 102 (Oak Lawn). Open for takeout, curbside and limited in-house dining.