A new business has popped up at 1674 Douglas Street and it’s quietly been introducing a delicious Hawaiian food to our city.
With its grand opening happening this Friday, Island Poké (pronounced poh-key) might not be a secret for long. In fact, despite little promotion and a relatively low-key storefront, the new business has already been dishing out plenty of poké bowls numerous satisfied customers.
Poké combines the raw seafood of sushi with the fresh, healthy nature of a salad bar, giving each customer the opportunity to create a unique, personalized bowl of goodness.
“To put it simply, [poké] is deconstructed sushi,” said Island Poké owner David Lee. “You can choose what kind of rice you want, white or brown [or salad], you choose your protein… then move on to mix-ins… dressings… [then] toppings.”
A sneak peek of potential poke bowl ingredients:
“I wanted to open up a restaurant, that was my initial dream,” said Lee. After working as a sushi chef, he wanted “something different”. Poké turned out to be the perfect food.
“Once I tried poké I was like, ‘this is it’,” he said. “I started planning and we were searching for locations… I came to Victoria for a holiday last summer and I just fell in love.”
In fact, he was such a fan of the city that he moved here from Vancouver shortly after his visit. When the Douglas St location opened up, it was the perfect fit.
Although a few other local businesses have offered poké as an option, Island Poké is the first restaurant in Victoria to specialize in the food.
“We have more fresh ingredients, more types of ingredients,” said Lee. “We only specialize in poké, so we’re able to keep everything fresh. (During our soft opening) we sold out everything because it was so busy. We won’t get oversupplied to keep the freshness.”
The Story of Island Poke
Lee revealed that the popular food was originally made for surfers in Hawaii. “It’s surfer’s food… [connected] to the sea,” said Lee. So the island parallel – Vancouver Island and the Hawaiian Islands – came naturally.
But Island Poké’s local vibe goes beyond just its name. In fact, the whole interior was designed and constructed by two new Victoria residents: Lee and his wife Mel Kim.
“[Mel] did the design and I did the construction,” said Lee. “My dad owns a franchise restaurant, so since I was young I ran restaurants and opened new restaurants… then while I was in Vancouver I was a sushi chef, and then I got into carpentry.”
The entire interior was the result of the couple’s hard work. Even Island Poké’s wooden tables came from a slab of Douglas fir that Lee cut into pieces.
Grand Opening BOGO
Although Island Poké is now nearing a month in business, its official grand opening will be this Friday, April 6. To celebrate, Lee and Kim will be offering the first 100 customers a buy one get one free on poké bowls!
So, if you hear people around the city talking about “BOGO poké,” they’re not just talking millennial nonsense, they’re spreading the news about a great new deal.