19 December 2017 0 Comments Posted By : Gail Johnson

Westcoast Poké introduces "vegan tuna" to Vancouver—and it's the first place in Canada to carry the plant-based food

Westcoast Poké (463 West 8th Avenue) has always prided itself on premium, sustainable ingreidnets. Now, the West Side spot is kicking things up a notch with a new menu item: a poké bowl featuring the world’s first commercially available plant-based tuna substitute.

It’s the first place in Canada to carry the product.

The vegan tuna is called ahimi, and it’s produced by Ocean Hugger Foods.

Ahimi resembles ahi tuna in many ways, with its deep red hue, meaty texture, and, most importantly, its rich, savoury flavour.

“It still has umami,” says Westcoast Poke cofounder Zachary Cho. “When I first tred it, it blew my mind how realistic it was. If I didn’ tell you [it wasn’t tuna], and gave you a poke bowl, you would never know. Even people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian will love it.”

Based in New York City, Ocean Hugger Foods specializes in plant alternatives to seafood. It was founded by certified master chef James Corwell, whose previous roles include  chef at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in the Napa Valley and at St. Helena’s Culinary Institute of America.

Ocean Hugger’s slogan is “Seafood is awesome. Extinction is not.”

Ahimi is made out of five GMO-free ingredients: tomatoes, water, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.

Ahimi is even OceanWise-certified.

You read that right. Even though ahimi is vegan, Ocean Hugger apparently uses a type of sustainable plankton in its proprietary method of producing the food, according to Cho, and earned the ocean-friendly label.

The company currently sells ahimi at Whole Foods Markets throughout the States, with distrubtion likely to start up across Canada soon. 

Started by three high-school buddies in November 2016, Westcoast Poké is set to launch its second location in Richmond’s Ironwood area early in the new year. To Cho’s knowledge, it will be that city’s first poke place.

Besides signature and build-your own bowls, Westcoast Poke also serves hand-helds as well as snacks like salmon chicharonnes, wonton chips, and taro chips.  

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