Poke 1 and ½ is one of the first assembly line type poke restaurants and have had significant success in their first location in Kearny Mesa, specializing in poke bowls and nothing else. No teriyaki chicken, no sushi, and nothing but fresh fish with tons of toppings to choose from. Unlike other poke places, Poke 1 and ½ have a completely free range of choices. All toppings are available to everyone, making it easy for customers to create a customizable bowl that is individual to them. All sauces, which include mild, spicy and hot poke sauces add a salty, sweet combination to your fish and are made in house. The sauce recipe is a secret to all inquiring minds and ensures that people will return for this addicting and savory mix of flavors. All their fish is sushi grade, top quality, sourced from California and cut on location making fish lovers return to Poke 1 and ½ again and again.
Poke, a fresh fish salad that is served as an appetizer or meal, originates from Hawaii. Although this craze started on the small, localized islands, it was just a matter of time before the main land caught onto the craze of carefully crafted “sushi bowls.” Specifically, California has pioneered this cuisine because of the great diversity of its population; it’s location on the coast and people’s inclination to be adventurous eaters. Poke originally has been served routinely on a bed of red cabbage topped with green onions and soy sauce, yet experimentation with these toppings, bases and combinations have definitely been tested.
“Californians are known for taking something basic and making it into our own by adding a lot of flavors and local ingredients. There has been a Californian interpretation of poke with toppings like avocado, crabmeats, cucumbers and pickled jalapeño. Who else is going to pair these things but Californians,” said Christina Myung, director of Poke 1 and ½.
The Poke craze was established in the San Francisco area, which is known for satisfying snacks, but has been making it’s route down the coast at a rapid rate. Hitting Orange County a couple of years ago, many San Diegans would drive up the coast for their poke fix, creating a significant opportunity for San Diego restaurateurs to fill the void for poke down south.
“San Diego has been ready for poke for a long time, it just didn’t have anyone to get it going. We are finally catching the wave. There is no better place than San Diego, with all the surfers and our strong relationship with the ocean,” Myung expressed.
Poke has been quite popular and praised since it has begun it’s reign over southern Californians. While sushi used to be a typical choice for consumption of raw fish, poke is a more affordable alternative. Sushi meals require a night out that could consist of reservations, a nice outfit, not to mention a pricey check at the end of the night. Poke allows you to have a marvelous meal without damaging a budget. In addition to being quick and ready to go, poke is actually beneficial to you.
“Poke is a healthier excuse to eat out. We have had burritos, hamburgers and pizza forever and finally something healthier for you is coming along,” Myung said reminiscently.
One of the most attractive attributes to customers about Poke 1 and ½ are the prices. The cost per bowl differs from small to regular and to large bowls, but there is no extra charge for toppings. This is unique as many other restaurants have a charge, but by the end, the meal is much more expensive than what was originally priced, due to extra charge per topping.
“While checking a customer out once, he said to me ‘I’m so glad you guys don’t charge extra for avocado, or else I would have to take out a second mortgage,” Myung said laughing.
With a huge following and a line that must be fed out the door on occasion, Poke 1 and ½ had huge success in Kearny Mesa but wanted to expand their footprint and venture into uncharted territories: North Park. Actually, North Park was the company’s original choice in location, yet they had to wait for the perfect space to grow their passion. North Park has been a coveted location for exclusive eateries and Poke 1 and ½ wanted to cash in on these stakes. With a culturally aware population and many hip locations, North Park seemed like the perfect place to grow Poke 1 and ½.
“It’s where all the things are happening, it’s where all the cool kids are at. From microbreweries and restaurants to the art scene, North Park really gathers a lot of people that are interested in a lot of things. Each restaurant has it’s own style and we want to add to the community with something that is not already established there yet,” Myung said excitedly.
The people that reside in North Park seem to form a neighborhood around great eateries and Poke 1 and ½ is looking forward to be part of this experience, but also benefiting from the locals. Pedestrians that see the Poke 1 and ½ sign that reads coming soon, often have peeked their head in and offered their encouragement, welcoming excitement for the upcoming restaurant.
“We have already made so many friends and I cannot imagine a better place to place a poke shop,” said Myung.
Poke 1 and ½ signed a lease at 3030 University Ave, next to the ever-popular City Tacos, in April 2016. They plan on opening in mid September and look forward to serving the community, friendly faces and residents of North Park.