Poke Fit owner Kyle Lee knows a thing or two about fish. He spent 15 years in the high-pressure environment of sushi restaurants, working his way up from a helper to head sushi chef.
“It’s a hard job,” Lee said. “You get yelled at if you get it wrong.”
Most of that time was spent in California, where he worked for Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant that has locations in California, Texas and a few other states. While living in California, he started to see poke restaurants become more popular. Poke is a Hawaiian dish consisting of diced raw fish. He decided to bring the cuisine to the Austin area and opened Poke Fit in 2017.
A laid-back restaurant located off US 183 in Leander, Poke Fit is different from the more fast-paced world of sushi restaurants, Lee said. Here, customers line up in front of a bar and select what items they want in their bowls, similar to Chipotle.
While Poke is a Hawaiian dish, Lee wanted to incorporate Japanese influences into the cuisine as well. At Poke Fit, customers can choose from sushi restaurant-grade seafood such as salmon, albacore, shrimp and tuna. They can also select from homemade Japanese-style sauces such as ponzu and sesame shoyu.
Lee said his goal with Poke Fit was to create a restaurant that is healthy, simple, cheap and fast.
“People want fresh sashimi cheaper,” Lee said.
Bowls range in price depending on size from $9.99-$14.99. Customers first select a base of rice or salad, then choose sides, protein, mix-ins, sauces and toppings.
People who do not like fish can order chicken teriyaki or tofu and starters such as Brussels sprouts and gyoza dumplings.
Lee said sometimes people are skeptical to try poke, but once they try it, they love it.
“I’m very touched by the response,” Lee said. “[Locals] love [having]this restaurant here.”
What is Poke?
Poke is a Hawaiian dish consisting of diced raw fish served with sauce. Poke Fit owner Kyle Lee said eating the poke at his restaurant is like enjoying sushi in a bowl.
2701 US 183, Leander
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sun.