Eating out healthy requires no special effort at Little Bear Poké, which is great for anyone, but especially for families looking for a fast-casual meal out they can feel good about afterwards.
It’s not surprising Little Bear is family-friendly; the playfully-named restaurant is a family affair, with sisters Noelle Hozumi and Bridget Placek, and Dave Placek, Bridget’s husband, making up the team behind Little Bear.
Placek has her own three little bears, who helped taste test the menu. There are fun touches for kids, too, within the clean, bright, welcoming space created by RHG Design, like an interactive Lego wall.
The most fun is trying to decide what to eat from Little Bear’s inventive menu. Get creative and build your own bowl ($15) choosing from different sustainably-caught or farmed fish (or tofu for vegans), and then adding on goodies like spicy lump crab meat, umebohi pineapple, oshinko pickles, pepitas, edamame or the fantastic crunch from house-roasted kale. Coeur et Sol, an urban farm in East Orange, supplies the salad/microgreens for Little Bear bowls; fresh fish deliveries come daily from Local 130 in Asbury Park.
Placek says Montclair has embraced Little Bear and it’s been great to see people stray beyond the bear-i-yaki bowl to try different fishes, including trout as their protein, or the different signature bowls, such as the Midori bowl (pictured below) featuring scallop ceviche with sweet bell peppers, shiso, radish sprouts, tobiko served over greens with tortilla chips (add rice or zucchini noodles for a heartier meal).
Little Bear has some secrets to discover, in the way of secret menu offerings, like the popular “Big Wave Dave” bowl (white rice and zucchini noodles with sweet kabayaki sauce covered in fresh Scottish salmon with spicy shoyu sauce, an extra scoop of tender spicy tuna, avocado, tempura flakes, green onion, and a spicy mayo drizzle – yum!) or the “Mia,” featuring Point Pleasant dayboat scallops marinated in spicy shoyu and topped with jumbo lump crab in spicy mayo, over zucchini noodles and brown rice lightly dressed in sweet homemade kabayaki sauce, and sprinkled with crispy onions and scallions.
If you’re coming in for a snack or a drink, there are onigiri (Japanese rice balls with different fillings) as well as kombucha and green tea on tap (juice boxes for kids).
Even the desserts are pretty much guilt-free treats. Shave ice with toppings like homemade strawberry compote, blueberry lavender or sweet azuki red beans makes for a sweet ending. Pro tip: After dinner, order your shave ice creamy with a snowcap of sweetened condensed milk and enjoy it on a bench at Anderson Park.
Created by one of our fabulous @littlebearpoke team members, our bowl of the day is the “Mia”. The sweetest and freshest Point Pleasant dayboat scallops marinated in spicy shoyu and topped with our out-of-this-world jumbo lump crab in spicy mayo, over zucchini noodles and brown rice lightly dressed in sweet homemade kabayaki sauce, and sprinkled with crispy onions and scallions. #secretmenu
Little Bear Poké, 254 Bellevue Ave., Montclair, (973) 337-5151