Fish and ice cream? West Lawrence restaurant rolls out new concept; tour one of Lawrence’s biggest new buildings
photo by: Chad Lawhorn
When I’m not in the mood for ice cream, I’m usually in the mood for raw tuna. Fortunately, I’m always in the mood for ice cream. But some of you may not be, and a west Lawrence ice cream shop is branching out by serving its take on poke bowls, which is becoming one of the food trends of the year.
The ice cream shop Freezing Moo, 4651 W. Sixth St., is now also housing a restaurant called Urban Grill & Poke. On one end of the large serving counter you have ice cream fixings, while on the other end you have fish, meat, sauces, rice and other ingredients for poke bowls and other Asian creations.
“It is getting really, really popular, and it also is really healthy,” Dongni Arroyo, manager of the combination restaurant/ice cream shop, said of the concept.
Most poke bowls, which have been popular for a long time in Hawaii, involve a base of rice, raw fish and several selections of sauces. Urban Grill & Poke will make you that type of poke bowl, if you want. Its menu includes sushi white rice or brown rice and a selection of raw ahi tuna or raw salmon.
But the menu also includes less traditional poke ingredients. If you don’t want rice, you can use quinoa, mixed greens or, yes, zucchini noodles. (I’m pretty sure they shot a guy in the “Godfather” movie for suggesting you can make noodles out of zucchini.)
If raw fish isn’t your protein of choice, Urban also offers grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled steak or tofu. Plus, the raw fish options can be cooked. The restaurant has a small broiler that it can quickly run the dish through, Arroyo said.
The meat and the base, though, are just two of the five steps in the process. You also get to add mix-ins, sauces and other toppings. The mix-ins include veggies such as corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, but also some more Latin type of ingredients like cilantro, avocado and jalapeños. Mango and pineapple are available, as is edamame.
Sauces include a variety of mayo, teriyaki, Sriracha, wasabi and others. Toppings — you get four with each bowl — include imitation crab, sesame seeds, bacon, garlic, various nuts, pickled ginger and masago, which is a type of fish egg.
Arroyo said the Lawrence location is the second Freezing Moo store to add the Urban Grill & Poke concept. She said other Freezing Moo locations in the Kansas City area, though, likely would add the concept because it fits with a key idea of the company. If you remember, Freezing Moo serves a special type of ice cream — Thai rolled ice cream — that some people say is healthier than normal ice cream. Arroyo said a big appeal of the poke bowls is how healthy they can be.
“We like bringing healthy concepts to people,” Arroyo said.
In other news and notes from around town:
• You have driven by it and likely wondered about it. It is the large industrial building at 23rd Street and O’Connell Road. Well, on Wednesday you can satisfy your curiosity. The public is invited to an open house from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the building, which technically has the address of 2325 Venture Park Drive.
Even if you aren’t that curious, the building is one of the more important ones in Lawrence currently. As we’ve reported, the building is the first to be constructed in Lawrence VenturePark, the business park that took the place of the old Farmland Industries fertilizer plant.
The building, however, is empty. It was built on speculation, meaning that the builder didn’t have a tenant lined up prior to construction. Local economic-development professionals are putting a lot of hope in the building attracting a tenant and getting some positive momentum going for VenturePark. It is currently being marketed by the Lawrence office of Colliers International, which is hosting the open house.
The building is a substantial public investment too. While the construction costs were borne by a private company, the city provided free land and property tax abatements for the building.
The company behind the project is VanTrust Real Estate out of Kansas City. It has made a major investment in Lawrence with the building and has expressed an interest in building others at the business park, if this one goes well. I’m working to make contacts with an executive with that company, and plan to bring you more about the company and what its plans are for Lawrence.