While visiting Hawaii brother and sister Edin and Aida Tabakovic fell in love with a classic dish called “poke.”
Pronounced poh-kay and meaning to slice or cut, the Hawaiian dish consists of cubed raw fish marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil.
“Hawaiian poke has really embraced other cultural influences, like Japanese, [by]adding the soy sauce,” Aida said.
The Tabakovics were born in Bosnia but have also lived in Germany and California. Aida also went to graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin, and the two have an uncle who owns Tony and Luigi’s Restaurante in Georgetown.
After growing tired of their corporate jobs Edin and Aida moved to Austin and opened Poke House—with their parents Rudy and Nancy—serving poke bowls.
“We always knew that Austin would embrace this type of food; it’s a foodie town,” Edin said. “People love to try new things. I was always very confident that it would do well.”
Their lack of experience and interest in a food trend not yet common in Austin made one downtown landlord nervous about offering them a lease, Aida said. However, they found a landlord in Northwest Austin willing to give them a chance.
“The landlord we have here truly saw our vision and was able to accept it and encourage it as well,” Aida said.
Located near numerous tech companies and service businesses, Poke House is a popular lunch spot. During the interview an employee from Autonation Chevrolet Austin complimented them on the authentic poke, saying it reminded him of living in Maui.
Taking a risk with a trendy dish has paid off for the Tabakovics. Just weeks before celebrating Poke House’s one-year anniversary in June, the duo opened their second location May 1 in Round Rock. Aida said she is glad they got their start in Northwest Austin.
“Down the line we would hope to sometime open something in the south, but I love the fact that we’re here and allowing people here in the north [to not]have to travel all the way down south for something that’s healthy, fast, new and exciting,” she said.
11150 Research Blvd., Ste. 216, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.