A hidden oasis welcomes guests with views of giant lakes, a forest of green, red and orange leaves. Up above, colorful butterflies hover. As the angels sing, a light shines down on the golden fish lying behind the glass. Poke Paradise clearly has higher aspirations than simply slinging bowls of protein and veggies.

“The relaxing views of lakes and forest is somewhere to get away and just enjoy poke,” owner Kim Tran says. “I wanted to bring a healthy option to the area, and I am a poke lover. I was going out to eat poke all the time, but something was always missing.”

With prices starting at $11 a bowl, the two-month-old restaurant on Saratoga Avenue in San Jose has a commitment to fresh food and a fresh environment. Everything is raw, just the way it should be.

There are four proteins to choose from with three scoops included in every order. Octopus, yellowtail, tuna and salmon are protein options and, like most poke spots, there is an additional spicy or house sauce mixed with tuna and salmon.

The restaurant not only has all the essential toppings like masago, seaweed salad and green onions, but also complements bowls with crunchy pork skin, or chicharrones. The pork skins are salty and crunchy, adding a savory garnish.

Custom drinks ($5) include Coconut Eruption, Strawberry Bubbling and Watermelon Bubbling. The latter two contain fresh chunks of fruit to give the beverage more texture and a tantalizing taste. On this visit the restaurant served complimentary samples, which we happily consumed in addition to ordering the delicious coconut drink. Dry ice is used to give the drink a magical, misty eruption. Served with a straw leaning casually inside the threaded fruit, the coconut water was sweet, refreshing and savory—and perhaps addicting. Tran jokes that she flies all the way to Hawaii to cut them down and bring them back herself.

It was quite a bit for one person to finish, especially when paired with a bowl of poke. It dawned on me I would have little chance of winning the Poke Paradise challenge, where the restaurant serves a bowl 10 times larger than the standard size.

Joey Chestnut, the longtime national hot-dog-eating champion and San Jose native who is currently ranked No. 1 by the Major League of Eating, is the only person to win the bowl challenge thus far, taking home $100, a free T-shirt and a free $60 poke bowl. Losers get their picture glued to a poster while posing with an “L” sign.

Poke Paradise
455 Saratoga Ave, San Jose.