“While traveling to Hawaii, my wife and I fell in love with the the culture and the food—and poke in particular,” says Jonathan Chong, explaining how he chose to open a restaurant devoted to the dish (pronounced poh-kay) of chopped raw fish and seasonings over rice. Chong, who lives in the area, also saw a need around here for food that’s healthy and reasonably priced.
The name Humble Fish is a reference to poke’s origins, when people sought a tasty way to make use of leftover or less prime cuts of fish. At Humble Fish, all of the fish is fresh, never frozen, and the tuna is wild-caught. (The menu is entirely dairy-free and mostly gluten-free.) Currently, there are seven varieties of poke, served in two sizes, along with a handful of snacks. The options will be updated now and then; octopus will likely be added in coming months.
“We put a lot of thought in to the design and branding,” says Chong, and it shows. The space—most recently Café Noir, and before that, 35 Thai—has been reborn as a light, airy room that seats around 35. At night, the lights are dimmed and candles brought out. “People can stop and have a glass of wine for $7 instead of $15,” says Chong.
Humble Fish looks like it could be the first link in a chain; Chong says that’s not in the master plan, but who knows? “If it ends up being just this one, I’m totally cool with that.”
Humble Fish is at 35 Lispenard (between Church and Broadway); humblefishnyc.com; open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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