Two poke shops have opened in DC in the past month alone. What’s a couple more? Honeyfish Poke, a California-based restaurant chain devoted to the Hawaiian raw fish dish, will open one location at 1615 Rockville Pike in Rockville’s Congressional Plaza development in the next three to four weeks. A second location is coming to 1401 K St., Northwest three to four weeks after that. (It will be joined at the corner address by Taylor Gourmet, opening Thursday.)
Honeyfish CEO Duke Park says he opened the country’s first Pinkberry franchise store in California in 2006. Over two and a half years, he grew that to 15 outposts of the frozen yogurt chain. More recently, however, he’s traded one craze for another.
“One of my partners took me to a poke restaurant, and when I walked in, I saw how busy it was and how vibrant and energetic it was. I tried the food and I totally completely fell in love with the food,” Park says. “It dawned on me, this is Pinkberry—except it’s with poke.”
Park has since sold off or closed most of his Pinkberry stores (he has three left), and launched Honeyfish, which now has six locations in Southern California. DC will be his first expansion outside the state, and he and his wife recently moved here.
Interestingly, he’s not the only poke shop owner with a frozen yogurt background. Poke Papa owner Kerry Chao also founded a fro-yo shop in his home state of Missouri.
The DC-area menus will be identical to those on the West Coast. The format is starting to look familiar: Customers choose a base (rice, kale, mixed greens), proteins (tuna, salmon, octopus), mix-ins (edamame, mango, crispy garlic), and sauces (ponzu, habanero mango, creamy wasabi). Although the exact pricing is still being finalized, Park says it will be similar to local competitors.
Park also has his eye on even more poke going forward.
“I have a very good feeling this is going to be a very big hit here,” he says. “So yes, I do have plans to open multiple locations in the DC metro market.”