5160 Town Center Blvd #520, Peachtree Corners
Owners: Brian and Ashley Mink
Open Since: April 27
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: In Peachtree Corners’ new Town Center outdoor shopping area, across Peachtree Parkway from The Forum. Located next to Taqueria Tsunami.
Atmosphere: Like the food it serves, Pokéworks is clean and fresh, its wooden tables and decor having an almost raw look, mimicking the fish that forms the basis of much of its menu.
Because the restaurant is a franchise, many other Pokéworks locations look similar, but the Peachtree Corners restaurant — the first Pokéworks to open in Georgia — has a more modern feel, said Ashley Mink, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Brian.
“As the brand has grown, they’ve changed the design a little bit and incorporated more of the wood tone to it,” Mink said. “The whole aesthetic is clean, fresh and modern, which you can tell by all those clean (wood) lines.”
Though Pokéworks offers ample seating, the restaurant, with its build-your-own dish format, is meant to be a grab-and-go or quick lunch or dinner spot.
“The appeal is really to be a fast-casual concept,” Mink said. “You breeze through the line pretty quickly to create your own healthy bowls, burritos, salads and noodle bowls.”
Menu: At its heart, Pokéworks is a fish restaurant, named for the classic Hawaiian fish salad that’s become increasingly popular across the nation in recent years.
While it offers several types of tuna and salmon, that’s not all Pokéworks gives customers the option to choose from.
“Everything that we do is prepared twice a day, and everything is fresh daily,” Mink said. “We cook our own scallops, shrimp and chicken here, so nothing comes in ready-made; it’s all prepared fresh in morning and evening prep. We also have tofu (as a protein).”
The way Pokéworks works, Mink said, is customers choose their base, which is one of four options: a rice bowl made from sushi rice, a kale noodle bowl, a burrito — something Mink said is “basically a giant sushi roll” — or a salad bowl. Then, they choose their protein and their mix-ins, which range from cucumber and kale to diced mango, edamame and chopped shiso. Pokéworks also offers hijiki and ogo seaweed, which sets the restaurant apart from others, Mink said.
“Not a lot of places invest in having those items, just because people sometimes shy away from them,” Mink said. “But I’m finding that if you introduce people to them, they like to see a new option and try a new flavor, so it’s fun.”
Once a customer chooses his or her mix-ins — there’s no limit on the number of mix-ins a person can choose, which also sets Pokéworks apart, Mink said — he or she then decides on a sauce, or flavor for the dish.
Then come the toppings, which are similar to the mix-ins, though they go on top of the dish, Mink said.
“We take your protein and your mix-ins and we sauce those and stir them in together then put them in the bowl,” Mink said. “The toppings are your finishes; they’re the salads that are already pre-made, because we don’t want to mix in a seaweed salad as it’ll make the bowl a little soupy.”
The dish isn’t quite finished yet though, Mink said.
“My personal favorite is the crunch section, because it’s kind of hidden away and people think they’re done by the time they get to the toppings, but then there’s a whole other section,” she said. “It’s the crunchy stuff — you know, the fried goodness. Everybody goes a little crazy with that.”
While the poke dish may be finished, Pokéworks has several side options for customers to choose from, including miso soup and seaweed salad. For dessert, there’s coco mano haupia — a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert.
For those unsure of what to put in their poké bowl, Pokéworks has several signature bowls, including a vegetarian one, to choose from.
Something You Might Not Know: Though the term poké (pronounced po-kay) is Hawaiian, the traditions behind the traditional ahi tuna are significantly influenced by Japanese culture.
While native Hawaiians would slice up small reef fish and serve them raw, when Japanese workers arrived to the state in the late 1800s, the main poké fish switched to ahi tuna. Poké bowls with rice, which are a combination of Hawaiian flavors and Japanese rice bowls, only became popular in restaurants in Hawaii in the last 30 or so years, and even more recently on the mainland.