By Rosin Saez
December 7, 2016

Brothers Bayley, Michael, and Trinh Le have been talking about opening a poke shop for, oh, five or six years now. But this shop—GoPoke now open on the corner of Maynard Avenue South and King Street in the Chinatown-International District—almost seems like destiny. You see, the Le brothers come from a long line of Vietnamese fish mongers. Moving from Vietnam to the Gulf Coast (where so many Vietnamese fishermen, or boat people as they’re commonly known, have emigrated to) to eventually landing in Hawaii.

Growing up in Hawaii selling fresh fish, and of course getting first-hand knowledge of Hawaiian cuisine, it makes total sense that the Le brothers have opened their love letter to Hawaii’s most trendy dish: poke. Poke, meaning to cross-cut in Hawaiian, has been an island staple for ages, when the first natives mixed fresh, raw fish with foraged seaweed and harvested sea salt. But GoPoke’s versions are certainly more modern, yet every bit as true to Hawaiian style poke as you can find.

“Authentic poke is hard to find,” says Trinh Le, but with GoPoke December 4 debut, it’s become that much easier.

At GoPoke things are casual; walk up to the counter and build your poke bowl, starting with your rice or greens base, then choose from the day’s array of poke, which ranges from spicy ahi poke to classic salmon to spicy tako (octopus) to even “toké”, a vegan tofu option. Or go for a predesigned bowl that combines different poke for you. You can’t go wrong either way.

Take it to-go or eat in; sit at one of the natural wood tables or at the window, where you can watch passersby or people playing life-sized chess in Hing Hay Park.

Business seems to be booming already: A server even told me the opening day’s line wrapped down the block and the wait time was two hours—30-degree weather be damned! But don’t let that scare you, come in at the right time, and you won’t wait very long. The staff has perfected their poke-making assembly line.

Beyond poke bowls, there are “pokerritos”, yes a portmanteau for poke and burrito, plus spam musubi, miso soup, a kids menu (!), and beer (!). And yes, you’ll want this shave ice with ice cream and sweet cream or Dole pineapple whipped topped with li hing mui powder whether it’s 70 and sunny or snowing outside.

GoPoke is open daily from 11 to 8.

P.S. Please read “The Thoroughly American Story of the International District’s New Poke Shop” from Seattle Met, it’s an illuminating profile on the Le brothers, their immigrant family’s history, and how it all culminates in a poke shop on King Street.