I have no crystal ball, but I do have a feeling that Corner 11 will have a nice, long life in a space that has seen more than its share of short-lived tenants and extended vacancies. Most recently home to Merchant Street Provisions, the prime park-side property in Tremont is seeing brisk business thanks to increased demand for poke. It's easy to see why poke (pronounced poh-kay) is making such a splash: the raw fish-based food is fresh, healthy, portable and eminently customizable.
When you're first, it's key to be helpful, and the friendly folks here begin every transaction with, "Hi, first time here?" We were walked through the process, which isn't unlike working one's way down the burrito station at Chipotle. After selecting one of three bowl sizes, customers pick a base of white sushi rice, black rice or mixed greens. Protein choices include raw sushi-grade tuna or salmon (from Catanese Classic Seafood), poached shrimp or scallops, or cooked chicken or tofu. There are seven sauces to choose from and management was more than happy to hand over samples of each and every one.
In the end we followed the owner's suggestion and blended the spicy Thai seafood with the creamy tom yum. Others on the roster include green curry, sweet shoyu, spicy mayo and teriyaki. Next comes the fun part, customizing your bowl with fresh toppers like avocado, mango, edamame, jalapeno wheels and wasabi-spiked flying fish roe. The mixing and eating is left to the diner. Prices are $8.50, $11.50 and $14.50, depending on the size.
The rest of the menu is a sort of Asian fusion mashup of snacks, noodle soups and even an entree or two. A sweet, creamy and rich Thai-style coconut curry noodle soup ($9.50), based on a family recipe, is loaded with tender egg noodles, cubes of silken tofu and punchy pickled mustard greens that contrast the cloying sweetness of the coconut. The bowl is garnished with a nest of crunchy fried noodles.
It's hard to resist the "Thai stix" ($3.50), a pair of uber-crisp and uber-slender fried rolls filled with imitation crab and cream cheese. The kanom jeeb ($6) are Thai-style siu mai dumplings, a half dozen delicate steamed purses filled with ground pork, ground shrimp and crunchy pieces of water chestnut. If you like dim sum-style BBQ pork buns, you'll love the pork steam bun ($5).
Owner Thiwaporn Sirisuwan is not content to leave well enough alone. She intends to add and tweak menu items until she's happy with the formula.