While visiting Hawaii, brother and sister Edin and Aida Tabakovic fell in love with a dish called poke.
Pronounced “poh-kay,” which means to slice or cut, the Hawaiian meal 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 went to graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin, and the two now call Round Rock home.
“We really just love the community,” Aida said. “It’s a little bit slower and not as fast-paced as Austin, and I like that aspect of it.”
Taking a risk with a trendy dish has paid off for the Tabakovics. Poke House Round Rock celebrated its one-year anniversary in May.
“There’s not a lot of sushi places in Round Rock, and definitely no poke spots,” Edin said. “We wanted to be the first.”
The duo opened their first location in June 2017 on Research Boulevard in Austin.
Customers in Northwest Austin tend to be young professionals during the lunch hour, Edin said, while the Round Rock crowd is typically more family-oriented.
The Round Rock location is mainly staffed by locals, Aida said.
“We are really impressed with the team we have from Round Rock,” Aida said. “They make our job easier, and they make our customers feel good, which is our No. 1 goal.”
While the Austin location experienced immediate popularity, Edin said Round Rock residents have been a little more hesitant to embrace the cuisine.
To those who might be nervous to eat raw fish, the Tabakovics encourage a willingness to try something new.
“Be open-minded and try it,” Edin said. “For the most part, especially people that are trying it for the first time, they love it. Rarely do I hear somebody who doesn’t, so be brave, and give it a try.”
Additional reporting by Rebeccah Hoffmann.
201 University Oaks Blvd., Ste. 1200, Round Rock
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.