FOOD & BEVERAGE | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Singapore

Three bankers bring Hawaii’s famous ‘Poké’ in Singapore

Get a taste of the so-called ‘new sushi’ at Aloha Poké.

Opened on October 7, Aloha Poké aims to bring a true Hawaiian taste to Singapore at Amoy Street. Bankers Selene Ong, Lee Yue Xian, and John Chen took a risk and ventured in the F&B industry for the first time. The three founders took a trip to Hawaii in September 2014 and fell in love with the fresh Poké that was a favourite amongst locals.

In Hawaii, Poké is traditionally served as a raw appetizer, primarily using yellow fin tuna. It is being dubbed as the “new sushi”, and is catching on across continental US, HK, and even in Australia. Aloha Poké bills itself as the very first Hawaiian Poké bar in Singapore.

John, one of the restaurant's co-founders, explained that in a relatively saturated market where consumers are getting more discerning with their food choices, they wanted to bring in something that was ‘extremely’ healthy, but also ‘mouthwateringly delicious.’ They believe that they were able to accomplish this through the vibrant flavours of Poké.

“We decided to bring the concept to Singapore, using not only tuna, but also salmon, seasonal fish and a vegetarian option using tofu. Each standard bowl is estimated to be below 500 kCal, depending on the add-ons one chooses, and is a great option for weight watchers,” said John.

According to John, Aloha Poké procures the freshest ingredients to ensure that their customers taste the freshness of Hawaii in every bite.

“Our vibrant array of Poké and add-ons are aesthetically displayed in a specialized chiller, allowing our customers to customize their Poké bowl just the way they like it. Staying true to the theme, we hired FUUR Associates (the designers behind outlets like Kyo, Jigger and Pony) to design our outlet with Hawaiian chic in mind. The Aloha Poké experience promises to be nothing short of spectacular,” he said.

The roots of Aloha Poké according to the founders

Tired of being mere employees, John and peers dreamt of having a restaurant of their own. “Being employed by banks for over 10 years, my partners and I all wanted to start something that we could call our own. We’ve had the privilege to sample foods from across the world and we were confident that we found a winning product with Poké,” narrated John.

John also explained that the primary reason for starting an F&B outlet was definitely not for money – but for passion. Being bankers themselves, they would like to think that they are financially savvy. To pursue this venture, they built a financial model and spent months debating the best vs. worst case scenarios. As for John, if there is one thing that they have learnt so far, it is that “no matter how much we plan, the only thing we can plan for is for things not to go as planned.”

Aloha Poké team’s dream is to build a brand where in Aloha Poké becomes synonymous with Poké in Singapore and in the region. As they are just starting, the team is focus on their flagship brand. However, according to John, once the Poké wave becomes a tsunami, they plan to expand by opening kiosks across Singapore and strategically in the region.

So if you would like to visit Aloha Poké, they promise to offer you one thing, “it will be love at first taste.”  

Do you know any restaurant which recently opened or will open soon? We'll be glad to hear from you. Just send us a message through Lee Anne Babierra at research@charltonmediamail.com.  

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Three bankers bring Hawaii’s famous ‘Poké’ in Singapore

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