The Poke Bowl Take Over

The Hawaiian raw fish dish that combines chunks of fresh seafood has overtaken sushi and ceviche as the demand summer snack in the last few years. It is a hot food topic that has saturated the restaurant and food market in a very impactful way. Hospitality and restaurant professionals need to know a few things about the Poke Bowl Craze.

Part of poke’s appeal is the way it can be customized to different tastes. Poke shops, such Uncle Sharkii offer a make-your-own poke bowl, where diners can select toppings like soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, scallions, Maui onions, cucumbers, and flaked chill. Some poke shops also offer rice bowls where the fish dish is served over sushi rice, where others focus on the fish as standalone dish. Just as diners can choose from an array of different toppings, they can also select from other fish.

Poke has grown beyond tuna, and diners can find salmon, albacore tuna, red snapper, octopus, and other seafood depending on the location of the poke shop. What makes the poke bowl unique, is its “made to order” concept, as it is made fresh daily and custom made for each customer.

The biggest growth of poke has been in the fast-casual sphere (where full table service is not offered, but restaurants advertise higher quality food than fast food restaurants, with fewer frozen or processed ingredients), but chefs at all levels are adding poke dishes to the menu, which shows how the food trend is taking over the restaurant industry.

What’s Behind the Poke Craze?

In today’s fast-paced society, diners are always looking for something they can eat on the go, and poke is certainly convenient for grab-and-go-food. The poke bowl dish is also photographed heavily on social media due to its “food art” presentation and visual appeal. This social media exposure, particularly on Instagram, is a top selling point for the dish.

It’s also a healthy dish people can feel good about eating. Fish is naturally healthy and offers a plethora of health benefits. Poke bowls are minimally processed, which adds to the appeal for diners looking for food that’s close to its natural state, yet seasoned with spice, salt, and herbs for a flavor kick.

Compared with other fast casual options, like pizza or burgers, poke requires less startup costs. Instead of investing in ovens, grills, and ventilation systems, chefs need only refrigerators and rice cookers, which makes poke shop concepts easier to start and monetize compared to other fast causal establishments.

Since poke shops require less startup cost, they can offer their food at price points low enough to appeal to diners on a budget, from college students to college workers. This accounts for poke’s appeal among those looking for successful restaurant concepts.

Poke Bowl Restaurants in the U.S

The Poke Bowl traces its origins to the Pacific Islands. The dish has been a long-time staple in Hawaii and California and has spread its influence across the west coast of the United States. So what’s behind the spread? The growth of Hawaiian cuisine, especially in the west, could be linked to decades of migration and the Hawaiian diaspora. That includes three waves of 20th century migrations. But in recent years, poke has been spreading to other parts of the country, Foursquare (a location technology), data shows.

The number of Hawaiian restaurants on Foursquare, which includes those that serve poke, has nearly doubled in the last couple of years, from 342 venues to 700 as of August 2016.

To see how long the spread of Hawaiian cuisine will last, we need to look at the average growth rate of Hawaiian restaurants in each state. But it’s not just the number of restaurants that is growing. More and more people want to know more about the poke bowl trend due to social media and website presence of poke restaurants.

Owning a Poke Restaurant

Is raw fish good to eat?

Many of the ingredients that make a poke bowl are fresh and natural, poke bowls are known for being so fresh that bowls are served with raw fish (often referred to as sushi), fresh fruit and vegetables. Poke is as fresh as it gets. The poke bowl business model is heavily reliant on choice and food combinations. As always, it is highly advisable that consumers do they own research before consuming any food products at a poke bowl shop.

Raw fish isn’t for everyone, especially for people that need to know how their food is prepared and with what ingredients. Being an authentic Hawaiian experience, Uncle Sharkii Poke Bar values their customers with the type of ingredients they use and are very healthy conscious. Food is prepared in a clean and maintained environment where customers know exactly what they are buying and what they are eating.

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