The Hawaiian raw fish salad known as poke, pronounced poh-kay, will soon make its way to Tucson's east side.
Bin An, partner at MiAn Sushi & Modern Asian Cuisine, announced plans to open Hoki Poki at 6501 E. Grant Rd. in early March. He's also scoping around town with two additional Hoki Poki locations in mind.
"I spent a lot of time in California," An said. "I see the poke restaurants there are doing phenomenally."
The poke concept was also a health-motivated decision for An.
"I'm getting older and can't eat fast food anymore," An said. "It hurts me. I can't process it like I used to when I was younger. I thought a healthy alternative that is reasonably priced with fresh fish would be a great alternative for Tucson — you can get in and out quickly without spending a bunch of money."
Rather than open another downtown restaurant and compete with himself, An chose an east side location in the area he grew up.
"I love how it's grown," An said. "I know every one on this side of town."
The 1,200-square-foot space previously housed Pizza Studio, which was open for just over a year and closed in early 2016. The interior will be inspired by downtown Seoul and Tokyo with three televisions playing K-pop music videos and Asian commercials of American products, An said.
Seating will be available for a maximum of 49 guests. To help speed up service, An is working on a mobile app for customers to place orders. A liquor license is pending for Hoki Poki to serve, beer, wine, and sake.
While the menu is still under construction, An shared a few basic details.
Poke bowls will start with a choice of sushi rice, brown rice, or organic salad mix. Proteins will include ahi, salmon, yellowtail, octopus, shrimp, and crab. Sauces in the works include garlic soy, spicy mayo, ponzu, wasabi citrus, Korean spicy, and spicy miso. The full list of vegetables is yet to be determined.
Teriyaki chicken and Korean steak will also be available for folks who aren't fond of seafood. Vegan and gluten-free options will also be available.
In addition to bowls, An is working on a recipe for a tortilla-like wrap to make "Asian burritos" and a recipe for wonton chips to make a sort of "poke nachos."
Hoki Poki is scheduled to open early March. Operating hours will be 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily. For more information, keep up with MiAn Sushi & Modern Asian Cuisine on Facebook.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he...