“Why limit the choices?”
As I look down the seemingly endless row of meticulously organized proteins, salads, toppings, sauces, and even fruits ready to be crafted into the perfect bowl, this ethos from PokeMee’s co-owner and manager Chris Nguyen rings so true. This new fast-casual, Hawaiian-style poké restaurant in Goleta offers something to please every type of poké palate. Explained Nguyen, who opened the restaurant with co-owner David Chen, “It’s a nice alternative to your burgers, pizza, and sandwiches.”
The build-your-own-bowl concept starts with a base of white rice, brown rice, superbly flavorful sticky sushi rice, or salad greens. Then you load a variety of proteins (three scoops for a regular, five for a large), such as spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, octopus, or tofu. Sides and toppings include crabmeat, avocado, seaweed salad, masago (fish roe), pineapple, and garlic chips, to name a few. Then, as if the bowl weren’t individualized enough, the sauce selection takes the PokeMee bowl to a new level of taste. Said Nguyen, “In any type of food, sauce is the something that ties everything together.”
As someone who always has a bottle of Sriracha at the ready, I was pleased to see that Nguyen is a condiment connoisseur with a passion for creating powerful flavors to bring out the best in each bite, specifically in their addictive spicy mayo and ponzu sauces. Explaining the secret to their ponzu, which strikes the perfect balance of citrus without being sour, Nguyen says, “Here, we marinate it for a minimum of 24-48 hours to extract that flavor.”
For a refreshing accompaniment to those bold flavors, PokeMee features fresh boba milk teas and fruit teas from Bay Area–based Sno-Crave Tea House. The delectable boba remains consistent with their commitment to choice, offering visitors customizable sweetness options from half to even a quarter sweetness added. Visitors can also survey the selection of games, including the ever-popular Jenga, to find the perfect post-poké activity.
Nguyen said that he frequently dines at PokeMee himself, and his excitement for the restaurant is evident in everything, from his friendly customer service to the homemade macaroons he serves in such fun flavors as tangerine dark chocolate. Said Nguyen with a smile, “We’re foodies here, opening up a spot for other foodies to enjoy.”
7000 Hollister Avenue, Suite 102, Goleta; (805) 770-3826; pokemee.com