The Poke Guy
By Megan Jones

A Slice of Hawaii in Vancouver

Vancouver may lack Hawaii’s tropical heat and aqua waters, but we can taste traditional Hawaiian poke (pronounced po-kay) right in our own backyard. Located in the heart of Gastown, The Poke Guy is one of the city's first poke-only restaurants, offering customizable bowls of the marinated seafood snack in a beachy, laid-back atmosphere.

“Seeing everyone enjoying our food is an exhilarating feeling,” says Angela Quan, who opened the 20-seat restaurant with her husband Jak Wong in 2016. The idea for the eatery came to the couple during one of their frequent family visits to Hawaii.

“The first thing we do when we arrive is eat poke, and it’s the last thing we do before flying home!” says Angela. “One thing led to another, and with a little blood, sweat and tears, here we are! Talk about dreams coming true,” she continues with a laugh.

Spreading aloha means we can bring the joy of delicious food to as many people as we can. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, in a t-shirt or in a suit, everyone is welcome - Angela Quan, co-owner
Founders Angela and Jak while on one of their many trips to see family in Hawaii.
Founders Angela and Jak while on one of their many trips to see family in Hawaii.

A Fresh, Sustainable Approach

Poke means “to section” or “to cut” in Hawaiian. The dish potentially dates back to the arrival of the first Hawaiians to the island chain, when fisherman cubed pieces from their daily catch and seasoned the makeshift lunch with whatever was on the boat. Today, poke incorporates modern marinades and ingredients but still remains “a simple, yet delectable dish,” Angela says.

In keeping with tradition, The Poke Guy serves mostly raw — and very fresh —seafood, shutting shop when daily supplies run out, which sometimes happens as early as 3:00 pm. “We have set strong values for our business,” explains Angela, who is proud to be Canada’s first Ocean Wise poke partner, working to source sustainable, ethical seafood. “How will we share seafood with future generations if the oceans are depleted?” she asks.

In addition to being better for our oceans, there are health benefits to consuming wild-caught fish instead of farmed, Angela says. Farmed fish may contain added toxins that are harmful for humans, among other factors. “There really is no excuse to not source your fish sustainably,” she explains.

The Poke Guy's laid-back dining room seats 20 guests.
Located in Gastown, The Poke Guy's laid-back dining room seats 20 guests.
Poke is traditionally made with raw albacore or ahi tuna. The Poke Guy also offers cooked scallops and shrimp for those who are squeamish about raw fish, and tofu for vegetarians.
Poke is traditionally made with raw albacore or ahi tuna. The Poke Guy also offers cooked scallops and shrimp for those who are squeamish about raw fish, and tofu for vegetarians. Photo courtesy of The Poke Guy

The Art of Spreading Aloha

The Poke Guy is not your average poke stop. Jak and Angela’s innovative twist on the historic dish is customization: guests order at the counter, starting with a choice of size (“Big Guy” or “Lil’ Guy”) and base including white rice, brown rice or greens. Next, diners choose at least two poke options– such as ahi tuna and wild sockeye salmon – and five or more sides (carrots, edamame, mango, cilantro — you name it). Happy customers can take their order to go or enjoy their poke bowl in a bright and airy cafeteria-style space, making this eatery one of Gastown’s healthiest fast-food options.

“Whether someone’s gluten free, allergic to nuts, hates avocados, or loves avocados we can serve them all,” explains Angela, touching on The Poke Guy’s overarching philosophy: the spreading of aloha, a Hawaiian word loosely translating to “leading a life with love, peace and compassion.”

With a commitment to sustainability and healthy food for all, Angela and Jak certainly practice what they preach. “Spreading aloha means we can bring the joy of delicious food to as many people as we can,” says Angela. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, in a t-shirt or in a suit, everyone is welcome,” she says with a smile.

In the heart of Gastown, The Poke Guy is the city’s first poke-only restaurant, offering customizable bowls of the marinated seafood salad in a beachy, laid-back atmosphere.
In the heart of Gastown, The Poke Guy is the city’s first poke-only restaurant, offering customizable bowls of the marinated seafood salad in a beachy, laid-back atmosphere.
Close menu
Subscribe to YP Newsletter