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Poke Trend Steamrolls Forward As Pokeworks Plans Two New Outposts

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Poke shows no signs of stopping its domination over New York

Pokeworks line Nick Solares

Apparently poke shows no signs of stopping its takeover of New York CityPokeworks, one of first fast casual poke shops to pop up in New York, plans to open two more locations in Manhattan by January. The restaurant’s small first location in Midtown at 63 West 37th Street, near Sixth Avenue, has had long lines at lunch since it opened earlier this year. The chain now plans to open restaurants near Grand Central, at 122 East 42nd St., and near Union Square, at 23 East 15th St. early next year.

Like other poke spots, Pokeworks uses the Chipotle-style method of dining, where customers customize what they want in a bowl of rice, salad, or wrap in an assembly line. Chopped up raw fish is the star of each. Poke originated in Hawaii, where it’s ubiquitous in places like grocery stores instead of formal restaurants.

The food only started attacking New York and the rest of the country with a vengeance this year, bringing with it toppings like avocado and crispy onions. Other poke fast casual spots that have opened in New York have similarly drawn crazy lines, and Top Chef alum chef Lee Anne Wong has already started the backlash to bad poke movement with her planned new restaurant Sweetcatch, which she claims will be more authentic.

But in the battle to claim poke territory, Pokeworks isn’t ceding ground yet. The planned new locations are both more than twice as big as the original outpost near Bryant Park, with more seating and more room to grab-and-go bowls of poke. The new Pokeworks will also capitalize on social media food culture with a "Poke Your Way" wall, which will live stream Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts from diners. And in a bid to highlight sustainability, the new locations will both use reclaimed wood from Pacific Northwest Timbers. If the poke gods have anything to say, 2017 will only see even more poke restaurants staking restaurant ground in New York City.