Pokelicious is Temple City’s newest destination for fresh, exotic custom Poke creations. Don’t worry, there are no Pokemon being harmed – Poke is a Hawaiian dish, a fish salad consisting of sliced/cubed raw fish, traditionally marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, and topped with a variety of garnishes including fish eggs, green onions, and sesame seeds.
Owners Ruby Sare and Luke Bang, who both hold separate full-time jobs (Sare is a high school English teacher and Bang works as a welding inspector) co-founded the business with a passionate entrepreneurial desire, “We’re just living the American dream … I basically want to create a better life to provide for my daughter,” says Sare.
Both have visited Hawaii several times in the past and the common denominator from all of their ventures to the islands was an obsession with Poke, “both of us were crazy about Poke. But over there Poke is completely different. By the time it came to California it’s so fusion that it kind of took away the essence of Poke.” So, after a few years of meticulous planning, Pokelicious held its soft opening on July 1, 2016, with an emphasis on upholding the traditional tenets of Hawaiian Poke, while at the same time experimenting with new, dynamic fusion flavors and combinations.
The best thing about Poke is that it is a very versatile meal and it is also a healthier alternative to many of the more traditional fast food options, “It can be eaten at any time of the day and the best thing about it is that when you eat it, you don’t feel so guilty after eating it – you don’t have that bloated feeling, you don’t feel disgusted with yourself because you just ate a crazy meal … it is a healthier option,” reveals Sare.
As a food item whose success relies heavily upon the freshness of its ingredients, the most significant of which is raw, Poke requires the utmost care and attention. Sare and Bang take the utmost pride in training their staff, most of whom possess state food-handler certifications.
The ingredients at Pokelicious are indeed so fresh, that there is no cooking going on inside the kitchen, only preparation. All food is delivered fresh throughout the week and proteins arrive as often as every two days. All that is left is for famished customers to dream up their very own creations and the folks at Pokelicious will do what they do best: deliver tailor-made orders at an affordable price and efficient speed.
The variety of options at Pokelicious ensures they do not exclude any customers. Sare and Bang have put a significant emphasis on catering to all palates, especially vegetarians and vegans.
When customers step inside Pokelicious, they are welcomed with a large menu of exotic and colorful ingredients. The ordering process is simple and affords options along every step of the way. After selecting between a bowl or burrito, customers choose a base (rice or salad), followed by protein, sauce, and garnishes. Burritos are wrapped in either Nori (seaweed) or soy wrap for those who need to monitor their salt intake.
The sauces play a big role in separating Pokelicious from the competition – in addition to the traditional Hawaiian Shoyu style (a simpler preparation, which predominantly features soy sauce) patrons can scratch just about any itch with options such as Sriracha mayo, Ponzu-Ponzu, Italian, and garlic chili, a popular vegan-friendly option.
Protein options include: salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, yellowtail, albacore, shrimp, Tamago (think Japanese omelette), and tofu. Exciting garnishes provide the color for Pokelicious’ ever-photogenic meals – some choices include: masago, jalapenos, cilantro, avocado, wasabi, edamame, mango, pickled vegetables, and much more.
To wash it all down, Pokelicious offers a tasty, refreshing selection of specialty teas, all brewed in-house by Sare herself.
Sare was also excited to say that there are many more recipes/ingredients in the works and Pokelicious hopes to add several unique specialty combinations to their already vast menu.
The business is personified by its commitment to give back to the community. Having both grown up in the San Gabriel Valley, Sare and Bang hope to establish a healthy relationship between their business and the area they call home. Pokelicious participated in last year’s 626 Night Market at Santa Anita Race Track and recently held a special exotic car event. “We do want to definitely involve the community in our business. We are in the process of setting up fundraisers to give back to the local schools and hopefully we can host more events,” says Sare. Additionally, Pokelicious offers a loyalty program where customers earn points for every dollar spent, ultimately affording them the opportunity to score free food and drinks.