Shropshire food and drink writer Laura Hadland reviews the new Pacific fusion restaurant Kanu Poké on Roushill in Shrewsbury - and finds no animals, gluten or nuts, but relaxed, friendly dining with a Hawai'ian vibe and creative cocktails.
You might have noticed a marked rise in plant-based and sustainable foods this year. It’s not just people following a vegan lifestyle. Flexitarianism is increasingly popular - skipping meat a few times a week can improve your health, and ease the impact of your diet on both your pocket and the environment. New venues like Kanu Poké on Shrewsbury's Roushill are opening to meet this demand.
Poké bowls are popular Hawai’ian dishes made with cubes of fish, vegetables and Japanese inspired seasonings. The Kanu Poké team took this as their starting point, removing the fish and using a range of fresh vegetables and house pickles. The colourful Pacific fusion-style restaurant offers a poké bar with a rainbow of bright ingredients, as well as a sizeable open kitchen and bar where you can see small plates, hot plates and house cocktails being prepared.
Co-founders George McCay and Katy Romney make their food as accessible and eco-friendly as possible by cooking dishes that don’t contain animal products, gluten or nuts. An avid traveller, George had enjoyed poké abroad. Spotting a gap in the market, he brought it home to Shrewsbury.
George left his position as the manager of Hickory’s Smokehouse to strike out on his own. His partner Katy, previously a photographer and designer, has brought her creative expertise to the restaurant and its branding. Kanu Poké makes a vibrant visual statement - the bold red octopus bursting out from the wall being particularly memorable!
The relaxed atmosphere, cheerful staff and laidback reggae beats certainly put me in mind of my own travels, eating at street trucks and lunch counters in O’ahu. Hawai’ian food is celebrated for its harmony of global influences and Kanu Poké imitates this beautifully.
I started with Cow-Kanu skewers with pink pickled house slaw. The skewers are made from soya, but have a delightfully chewy texture that the most ardent meat eater will enjoy. There is a subtle hit of spice that pairs well with the tangy sweetness of the slaw.
Alongside my food, I enjoyed Coffee on the Beach cocktail. A nod to the Irish coffee, it was made with hot espresso, a coconut cream float and a not-inconsiderable slug of coconut rum. I loved the combination of warm and cold in my glass, and the spice in the starter emphasised the boozy rum kick.
Next up, I went for the Mexicana Chic-Kanu served with a bubble waffle, guacadame and maple syrup. The deep-fried ‘chicken’ had a wonderful texture with an intensely crunchy coating. The flavour worked beautifully with the bed of creamy edamame guacamole. The bubble waffle was the least successful element because it basically disintegrated underneath the unctuous edamame deliciousness. But I’m nit-picking.
My lunch experience at Kanu Poké was joyous - and incredibly filling. This easy-going eatery is a fantastic addition to Shrewsbury’s food scene. Family-friendly in the daytime, and great for cocktails and infectious beats in the evening, it’s a flexitarian delight.
Kanu Poké vegan, gluten free & nut free restaurant, 5 Roushill, Shrewsbury SY1 1PQ - firstname.lastname@example.org