March 9, 2020

Meet Steve from Steve’s Poké Bar

Meet Steve!

The best way to describe Steve's poké bowls is that they are nutritious and delicious. With the freshest ingredients, great taste, and a variety of health benefits, Steve has definitely mastered how to spread Aloha to the Brewery District and all over Vancouver.

We were excited to interview Steve and get to know more about him and his growing business. Keep reading to learn more!

Steve and Jay holding up a hang loose sign at Steve's Poke in Brewery District.

What does it mean to 'spread Aloha'?

In Hawai'i, the term Aloha means hello and goodbye. However, Aloha is so much more than that. Aloha is part of the core that makes up the Hawaiian culture.
For me, Aloha represents peace, friendship, family, caring, and sharing. It is embracing good feelings while spreading positivity, knowledge, dreams, and culture. Aloha embodies that general feeling of good vibes.

I feel very lucky to be able to share what I love with others because I believe that it is the best way to share a part of yourself.

What inspired you to open up Steve's Poké?

I always knew I wanted to do something on my own. So, when my wife Camy was pregnant with our second child, I decided I should jump in and try something while I was still young.

The funny thing about it is that I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do until my cousin came to visit from Hawai'i. They mentioned how, when I was 9 or 10, I always talked about opening a poké shop in Vancouver. It was my favourite thing to eat on the island, and I missed it every time I came home.

Growing up, we used to have poké competitions in my family, and I almost always won with my signature shoyu. Poké was always such an important part of my life. Opening up a poké store was a dream I had forgotten about.

That was how Steve's Poké came about!

Image of two poke bowls with a variety of fresh ingredients and fish.

What is your go-to when building your own
poké bowl?

Depending on how hungry I am will decide what base I choose. One of my favourites is to do half quinoa and half salad. Then for the poké, I really enjoy the taste of the fish itself, so I'll often pick our Ala Moana Ahi tuna flavour, which is just lightly seasoned. For toppings, I like to stick to a 3-topping maximum as not to overwhelm the flavour of the poké, then finish it off with some masago (fish eggs) or avocado.

That would be my favourite go-to poké bowl!

I also love making poké at home for my family and friends. My go-to for that is to prepare spicy ahi tuna, which is my wife's favourite, some rice, and then seasoned nori (seaweed) strips. We then make a DIY nigiri by grabbing some rice and tuna with the nori strip.

It's simple and easy for dinner, yet absolutely delicious!

Do you have any vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options?

Most of our items are vegetarian or vegan! The exceptions to this are our kimchi and the seafood poké.

Some of our popular vegetarian substitutions for the seafood are tofu and/or avocado. On our menu, we have one pre-made vegetarian bowl, which is known as the 'No Swimmin' bowl."

As for gluten-free options, almost everything at Steve's Poké is gluten-free. The only exceptions are our sauces with mayonnaise in it, such as our spicy sauce, and our traditional Shoyu. However, we offer plain hot-sauce if you still desire that spicy kick, sesame oil for great classic flavour and also have a gluten-free Ponzu, that can be provided by request since we need to store it in the fridge.

The selection of fresh veggies and fruits that you can add onto your poke bowl.

What's your proudest moment since opening?

My team!

All of the managers that helped build the business started working at Steve's Poké on the line serving poké. Everyone started without any restaurant experience, and we learned together, which makes me proud of how far everyone has developed.

I believe in only promoting from within, which has given my employees a fantastic opportunity to step-up to various challenges and grow. The Steve's Poké family is supportive and interconnected between all our locations. You can tell that the staff genuinely care about the business and the overall success of their co-workers.

A couple other proud moments was being voted best poke in Vancouver in 2018, our second year of business, followed by being named Yelp’s Top 10 Places to Eat in Canada for 2019 and 2020, and Yelp’s #1 Place to Eat in Vancouver 2019!

What's next for Steve's Poké?

The next big thing that's happening is that we are starting a franchising program! We want to make it possible for anyone who wants to own and run their own business, to be able to. We're excited to be able to give them that opportunity and help them succeed.

Another exciting thing that is in the works is a membership program that should hopefully be launching in Spring 2020. This program will give our amazing customers a variety of rewards and incentives to stop by.

Signage on the windows at Steve's Poke located in the Brewery District.

What's your favourite thing about the Brewery District?

For myself, I love that it's close to home! It definitely makes my morning commute more enjoyable. Having the SkyTrain right there has been invaluable for both myself and my staff.

Location wise, we love being able to bring so many notable businesses, such as the hospital, a healthy and easy option for lunch. It's been great getting to know some of our regulars that work in the Brewery District.

What's your motto?

I'd have to say my main motto is this:

Make mistakes. Fall on your face and then get back up.

When I train my staff, I give them the necessary instructions on what to do and let them try it out. Afterwards, I check-in on them and we talk about how they did. We'll go over the process together to learn and reflect on what worked and what could be improved.

Learning from doing something yourself and from making your own mistakes is invaluable for growth.

The perfect bite of tuna poke.

Wow, look at that perfect bite.

We wanted to thank Steve for taking the time to do this interview with us!

The Brewery District is excited to have another healthy and delicious option within the community that also radiates good feelings of Aloha.
We can't wait to stop by Steve's Poké again soon!

If you want to learn more about Steve's Poké, you can visit their website here or their Instagram here.

You can also head over to their Brewery District location at: 237 Nelson’s Crescent, New Westminster