Everywhere you look, a poke restaurant seems to be opening. From Ono Poke in Montrose to Pokeology in Rice Village and Pokii Eatery and North Shore Poke in west Houston, Houston has developed full blown poke fever.
Later this year, one of New York City’s favorite poke destinations will enter the mix. After teasing its imminent arrival late last year, Pokéworks has confirmed that it has signed a lease to replace a shuttered WhichWich at 213 Heights Blvd, which puts the restaurant in the same Heights-adjacent shopping as Chipotle and near Pi Pizza and the recently opened seafood restaurant Star Fish. If all goes according to plan, the restaurant will open in August.
Pokéworks manager Jay Gerber tells CultureMap in an email that the restaurant features the same Chipotle-style serving line as most of the other new wave poke shops but sets itself apart by making a commitment to serving sustainable seafood and offering a more diverse array of toppings that includes macadamia nuts, lotus root chips, and masago.
This video describes the company’s “Poke Your Way” approach and also features some fairly filthy poke porn.
The restaurant serves its poke both in traditional bowls, as a salad over lettuce, or Instagram-friendly poke burritos. To give diners the opportunity to sample authentic Hawaiian flavors, Pokéworks has also partnered with a Maui native, celebrity chef and Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon, to develop bowls labeled “Signature Works” that combine specific ingredients.
It’s that photo-friendly appearance that drew Gerber to the restaurant. As soon as he saw a photo of the company’s dishes online, the Houston native added it to his dining agenda when he visited New York.
“I finally got that chance to go to New York, (where I) visited the very first location and tried it out for myself,” Gerber writes. “That experience far exceeded my expectations and I knew right then and there that I had to bring it back to my hometown.”
Given the city’s full blown poke fever and the company’s track record of success — it already has locations in Massachusetts, California, and Seattle — Pokéworks looks to be another intriguing addition to this year’s hottest food trend. The company certainly hopes so; Gerber confirms he’s already scouting for additional locations.