The founder of a forthcoming takeaway poké concept hopes to roll out the brand “thick and fast” once he has established his first store, MCA has learned.
James Gould-Porter is the co-founder of Island Poké, which is due to open in Kingly Street, Soho, with the backing of the White Rabbit Fund, the restaurant investment platform of former Soho House Groups commercial director Chris Miller.
The contemporary fast casual concept is based on build your own bowls of Hawaiian-style raw fish, a style that has already swept the West Coast of America and is making inroads in the UK.
Gould-Porter first tasted poké during childhood holidays in the US, and quit his job at Bonhams 13 months ago to develop the idea as a street food trader under the name the Hawaiian Fish Company.
After Miller came on board eight weeks ago the concept has been refined with the launch of its first permanent store in October.
Gould-Porter said: “People are so accustomed to eating sushi everywhere I thought it was evitable poké was going to go that way. People are also looking for a customisable, flexible lunch, with the interaction you get at places like Subway, where you pick your fillings.
“We’re trying to do is get clearance away from sushi market by inclusion of tropical fruit salsas. There’ s only so much people can do with a nigiri or maki roll. It’s become a bit formalised. This a dressed down, more informal version.”
The word poké comes from the Polynesian slice and dice, and diners will be able to choose seasoned sushi rice or raw slaw, with fish or beetroot on top, as well as salsas and add-ons such as seaweed, pickled radish and Sriracha mayo. It will also cater for gluten free, vegans and vegetarians.
On his ambitions for the brand, Gould-Porter said: “Let’s get this going, make sure the model’s in place, prove an appetite for it with bricks and mortar – then try and launch a few more of these over the next couple of years.
“I don’t think it’s a fad. It’s a product that’s still coming, but it’s coming across so quickly. Let’s not run before we’re walking, though the plan is obviously to roll this out thick and fast.”
Miller said: “I am always searching for great quality, healthy, grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts in London, after one tasting with James and Island Poké, I was hooked. I first tried poké in L.A last year and seeing its incredible success, I am confident James and the team will turn Island Poké into the preeminent poké offering in the UK.