June Choe wants to bring the feeling of her native Hawaii to Long Beach through her new restaurant, Poke Pub, in Downtown Long Beach.
Located at 160 The Promenade North, the former site of Foundation Sandwich Shop, Poke Pub offers an array of customizable fresh poke and barbecue options for bowls, along with Hawaiian beers to wash it all down.
The inspiration behind Poke Pub comes from Choe’s upbringing in Hawaii where poke is a staple typically paired with a beer, she said.
“If you ever have a beer, you always have poke because it’s one of the best appetizers you can have for alcohol,” said Choe who opened up her new location in Long Beach to be closer to the beach. “That’s just how I grew up; getting a bowl of poke, a hand roll and going straight to the beach. It’s the Hawaii life.”
Eighteen years ago, Choe moved to California to work in advertising. But after ten years of working in the advertising industry, she decided to venture out and start her own business.
Thereafter, she decided to open up her first poke restaurant in Glendale before launching other locations in the Los Angeles area.
“My whole family does restaurants [in Hawaii] … and eight years ago I felt like, ‘Okay it’s time for poke here in California, I think they’re ready for it.'”
But Choe, who said she was always looking for her next venture, eventually sold each location before finding herself opening her latest small business in Long Beach, where the Poke Pub had its soft opening on Friday, Nov. 18.
So far, Choe said it has been a slow process getting the business up and running. But she’s also felt that the community has been really supportive and has made her feel welcomed.
“I do hope to be here long-term,” Choe said. “The community is very tight-knit here.”
At Poke Pub, the secret is in the sauce, according to Choe who said she marinates her poke using a recipe that has been in her family for more than 20 years.
“Every single sauce has history to it,” Choe said.
Customers can customize their bowls, choosing from four bases followed by a variety of proteins such as blue crab, shrimp tempura, and albacore.
For people who don’t like raw fish, Poke Pub provides vegan options such as tofu bowls, and avocado and cucumber handrolls. Other options include bulgogi, spicy pork and chicken teriyaki, which can be used to make a bowl or a burrito.
“Hawaii itself is a tourist attraction, so we cater to people all over the world,” Choe said. “We have to consider everyone’s palate. That’s why Hawaii’s flavors are really good.”
Poke Pub is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., although it closes each day for an hour from 4 to 5 p.m.