Kelvin Tran opened Brentwood’s only poke shop, The Poki, last October, giving diners a health-conscious option in the heart of the city.
“People here, they seem to be very healthy, but there’s not a lot of healthy options,” Tran said. “I was thinking, ‘Why not open a poke shop?’ It’s very trendy, very modern, very quick.”
The classic Hawaiian poke—pronounced poe-kay—bowl is made with marinated raw, diced fish, soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions and white rice, he said.
“We take that tradition and implement it with different flavors from Korea or Japan, because it’s so similar,” Tran said. “Why not introduce those flavors and give people the option to customize their own?”
At The Poki, guests can pick ingredients for their custom bowl with help from staff, or choose from signature options such as the Gangnam Spicy Tuna bowl with green onions; sesame oil; cucumber; crispy garlic; breakfast radish; and gochujang, a spicy fermented Korean chile paste.
Tran added that the restaurant is popular with people who work in the Brentwood area because the fresh bowls are light and do not leave diners in a “food coma.”
“Poke is more of a lunch thing,” Tran said. “When you eat poke, compared to say, eating a burger, pizza or pasta, you don’t feel heavy.”
Tran said the menu is keto-friendly, and the vegetables and proteins, many of which are sourced from local farms, are cut fresh every day. Other ingredients are imported from Japan and elsewhere in order to get the most authentic taste.
The menu will rotate seasonally, he said, allowing the eatery to use the freshest toppings. Tran said in the future, he wants to partner with a local juice bar to provide healthy drink options as well.
“Everything is very fresh, very clean; nothing is done to it,” Tran said. “We let the ingredient speak for itself.”
119 Franklin Road, Brentwood
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m.