Some trends catch on quickly. Count poke, the Hawaiian raw fish dish, as one of the catchier ones, and Poke-Chan as the newest New Orleans restaurant to highlight it. The restaurant opened in a bright and airy building next to Faubourg Wines on St. Claude Avenue Dec. 16.
The restaurant is run by four women, three of whom are sisters.
Lien Nguyen was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States. She, Loan and Susan Nguyen are longtime New Orleans residents. They met Dalena Vo, who runs most of the food operation, while working at nearby N7, eventually deciding that they wanted to open a restaurant of their own.
“We’ve been working on it a little bit more than a year now,” said Lien Nguyen, whose father once ran a Vietnamese restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi. She says the four women grew up working in restaurants and the seafood industry.
For inspiration, the group visited Hawaii to research poke.
“We wanted to know how it was served traditionally,” Nguyen says.
Poke-Chan’s fast-casual concept is similar to that of Poke Loa, the first poke restaurant to open in the city.
Guests can order at the front counter, checking off items on a form for the "build-your-own" bowl option. The menu includes a base of white or brown rice, greens, wonton chips or a burrito-style wrap. Guests can add proteins (fish, seafood or tofu), sauces, toppings and garnishes.
There also is a list of signature bowls. The Classic Hawaiian is made with fried wonton chips, tuna, sesame oil, scallions, sweet onions, wakame, ponzu, seaweed salad, macadamia nuts and togarashi. The Tamarind Scallion features white rice, mixed greens, yellowtail, bay scallops, sweet onions, scallions, fresh wasabi, cucumbers, spicy tamarind marinade, seaweed salad, jalapenos and fried onions.
The restaurant also has several bowls featuring cooked items. The Savory Shroom combines brown rice, fried tofu, fungus, seasoned bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, lotus root chips, scallions and mushroom sauce. The Karaage bowl has white rice, Japanese-style fried chicken, kimchi, shredded red pepper, scallions, sesame seeds, spicy mayonnaise and ponzu. The salmon teriyaki bowl includes brown rice, mixed greens, salmon, sweet soy glaze, scallions and seasoned bean sprouts.
The restaurant serves beer, wine and sake as well as Thai milk tea, Vietnamese coffee and soft drinks.
Poke-Chan is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.