San Diego Poke Co. To Open Brick And Mortar Eatery This May | Hillcrest Farmers Market Favorite Will Debut Storefront In Mission Valley This Spring

March 17, 2016

San Diego Poke Co., the popular poke vendor at the Hillcrest and Scripps Ranch Farmers Markets, will open its first brick and mortar location in Mission Valley this May. Owner Yohei Umezu first launched the company to fit the farmers market model in March 2015, and now at its one-year anniversary and having amassed a remarkable following, fans can look forward to enjoying their favorite poke at a casual eatery to be open daily and feature made-to-order poke rice bowls, salads, wraps and more.

Across the “mainland,” poke has found itself trending in recent years. Locally, San Diegans can attend the annual I Love Poke Festival each May or shop various farmers markets and niche neighborhood eateries – yet poke remains more evident in Los Angeles, where restaurants dedicated to the dish have experienced great success. With the opening of San Diego Poke Co., the poke trend continues to migrate down the coastline to San Diego.

“Growing up Japanese, seafood was part of my life. Family from Hawaii introduced me to the island style of seafood, poke, and from there I just fell in love with the fusion of flavor,” said Umezu. “I noticed that San Diego was lacking poke restaurants, and I’ve also met quite a few people who had never tasted or heard of poke, yet they came to us for their first experience and loved it. Now, they’re loyal customers and are excited for our store to open.”

For this venture, Umezu will team with Chef Meljohn Sebastian, who worked for ten years alongside Executive Sushi Chef Jerry Warner of La Jolla’s esteemed sushi and Asian fusion restaurant CafĂ© Japengo. Notably, Chef Sebastian has also worked with Hall of Famer Junior Seau, creating sushi for the former athlete’s events, and has appeared on Japanese television, making sushi with former mentor Chef Warner.

The casual, 900-square foot space at 10387 Friars Road will feature glossy gray concrete floors with bright white walls complemented by black, red and gray accents. Upon arrival, guests will head to the counter for made-to-order poke dishes ranging around $10 to $12 and featuring a variety of choices in fish and other seafoods, bases (varying types of rice, salad, wraps, etc.), toppings, and sauces including a house truffle soy sauce and house umami sauce to be debuted upon the restaurant’s opening. SD Poke Co. will also collaborate within the community to offer seasonally-changing desserts, and fans should keep an eye out for authentic mochi ice cream flown in via overnight shipping from Hawaii.