Photos by Asia Morris.
Poki Cat celebrated the grand opening of its second location today with a ribbon cutting attended by owners Jin Luo and family, city officials from the City of Long Beach, The Current, Downtown Long Beach Alliance and Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as members of the downtown community.
Luo’s family had a sushi restaurant in Corona for nearly 15 years, while his father has worked for notable sushi establishments, including Nobu’s flagship, Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills. Luo’s venture into poke, however, didn’t come as naturally as you’d expect.
“At the time I didn’t really want anything to do with the sushi restaurant because I felt it was too complicated, there was too much tradition, it’s expensive,” Luo said. “I wanted to get away from that so that’s why I went to study music.”
Luo moved from Corona to Chicago for the next 10 years to study opera, lived in Shanghai for three years after that, and finally landed in Long Beach where he’s been living for the past six months.
“I come back, and it’s kinda funny, we’d been selling poke at [my family’s] restaurant for such a long time, but now it’s such a big thing, so I thought, hey this is a really good way to get a lot of people to eat good food, to eat healthy, so that’s one of the reasons we started doing poke specifically, and now there’s a market for it as well,” Luo said.
Poki Cat has two locations, one that opened in Corona a little over two years ago and the newest one now open at The Current. They’re hoping to open their third location by late April or early May at The Streets at 325 The Promenade North (near Thick Shake Factory), and a fourth in Corona on North Main Street.
“I feel like Long Beach is a really good community, there’s so much variety of people, it’s very diverse,” he said. “Every time I come here something new is going on, so that’s one of the reasons I really like to be here. This community is a good community.”
Poki Cat offers poke bowls and sushi burritos from $9.95 to $12.95. You can build your own or choose from any signature item. The Treasure Chest bowl, for example, holds spicy shellfish salad, octopus, carrots, cucumber, lemon ponzu, spicy mayo, house-made chili oil and more, which you can also have wrapped into a burrito.
With a handful of poke spots already open in Long Beach, think Roe Seafood (which serves Ahi poke) and Poke Pola in Belmont Shore, and Poke Bar in the east village, Poki Cat certainly has a brand that distinguishes it from the rest.
To the few who have confused Poki Cat for a pet store, the logo is based on Luo’s and his wife’s tuxedo cat, Maestro, who looks like a conductor and is as much a fish connoisseur as the musically-inclined family, said Luo.
— Asia Morris (@TheAsiaMorris) March 9, 2018
Learn more about Poki Cat here.
Poki Cat is located at 707 East Ocean Boulevard.