New poke restaurant Poke Parlor puts unique spin on Hawaiian cuisine

Xiaoye Yan/Staff

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Poke Parlor, a new Hawaiian fusion restaurant on Telegraph Avenue that offers a flavorful twist on traditional poke, is celebrating its grand opening Friday.

Poke is a raw fish salad in Hawaiian cuisine typically served as an appetizer over rice or salad. Poke Parlor is switching up traditional poke fare by featuring unique dishes such as pokenini sandwiches and poke tacos on the menu and incorporating Asian and Latin flavors.

Poke Parlor’s soft opening was Sept. 6, and it has been open since then with a 10 percent discount on all items. For its grand opening Friday, Poke Parlor plans to unveil a new promotion, which is currently being kept under wraps.

The restaurant was originally scheduled to open about six months ago, but the opening was postponed as the restaurant waited for the city to process and approve building and zoning, according to owner Jeffrey Wang.

Despite the delay, Wang said he is excited to be located near campus.

“So far, the reception from Berkeley has been incredible — we’ve been getting really positive feedback,” Wang said. “We’ve been staying really busy, as a lot of people have a lot of interest in our store.”

Wang added that all of the ingredients, packaging and other resources the restaurant uses are sustainably sourced — locally sourced, if possible.

“We ship our fish and our seafood fresh every day, and we cut it all in-house,” Wang said.

Campus seniors Sharon Yeh and Phoebe Lee, who ate at the restaurant Wednesday, both said they enjoyed the food, noting in particular the freshness of the fish.

“There’s no limit on how many toppings you can get,” Yeh said.

Lee and Yeh said Wednesday was their second time eating at Poke Parlor, adding that they plan to return once in a while.

Diana Lee, owner of another poke restaurant in Berkeley called Hashtag Poki, said she does not think her business will be adversely affected by Poke Parlor’s opening, explaining that they compete for different customers. Hashtag Poki’s consumer base is composed of the medical offices, businesses and residences around it, Lee said. She noted that Poke Parlor has been trying to open for a long time, and she expressed happiness that Poke Parlor had finally opened.

Employees of neighboring businesses also said they believe Poke Parlor’s opening will positively impact the community. Francesca Honey, a cashier at Moe’s Books across the street from Poke Parlor, said she believes Poke Parlor’s opening will make students more likely to walk down to the block from campus.

“This block has been known to be more of a slower block,” said Tenzin Tagudh, a sales representative at Gifts of Tara. “It’s about time a good poke place came to Berkeley.”

Contact Emily Mantaro at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @EmilyMantaroDC.