The lowdown on Kahuna Poke Bar, opening soon in Mt. Pleasant, plus four other Charleston poke spots to try

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We've been loving Poke Tea House bowls for two years and counting - JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
  • We've been loving Poke Tea House bowls for two years and counting
With a new poke restaurant, Kahuna Poke Bar, opening at the end of July in Mt. Pleasant, we figured it was about time to round up a few poke places around town. Though Eater queried in Nov. 2018 — has the poke bowl trend peaked? — there seems to be no sign of stopping the raw, cubed meat wave in the Lowcountry. All these joints are colorful AF, fast casual, offer a dizzying array of build-your-own-options, and will make you a bowl that will surely end up on the 'gram. Here's the breakdown of Kahuna, plus four other places where you can poke your way:

Kahuna Poke Bar

Who they are
Though they won't be open until the end of July, but Kahuna Poke Bar has already amassed over 1,000 Instagram followers. Owner Amber Oblinger says she has lived in Hawaii, which gives her an upper hand when it comes to crafting authentic poke. Kahuna is also locally owned and operated, working to serve high quality, fresh food. "We work with an executive chef with 30 years experience in Asian cuisine and only order AAA tuna," says Oblinger. "Our poke bowls are sized appropriately to ensure our customers get not only the quantity that they deserve, but also the quality and the nutritional values that they need to sustain their busy lifestyles." That means: more toppings, less rice as filler.
Where they are
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd. Mt. Pleasant
When they're open
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. & Sun. noon-6 p.m.
What you can order
Choose from eight different signature poke bowls ($10-$14), or build your own. Base choices include white rice, brown rice, spring mix, kale, or zucchini noodles; proteins include marinated tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, spicy salmon, crab, cooked salmon, shrimp, chicken, squid salad, and tofu; top it with select sauces and other poke standards.
Why you should go
Kahuna also offers make your own acai and salad bowls (plus inventive signature iterations of both) and gives back with their acai "Hero Bowl" — proceeds go to stroke research. The weekly specials are sweet, too, like BOGO bowl Mondays and Signature Saturdays ($2 off signature bowls).

Poke Tea House

Who they are
Owner Chu Xin Jiang opened her downtown Poke Tea House location in early 2017; at the time, former CP editor Kinsey Gidick openly admitted her addiction to Jiang's bowls, writing: "I've been to Poke Tea House five times in the last four weeks ... the small shop on Spring Street is serving what I consider to be one of the most convenient, satisfying, and (relatively) healthy lunches in the city right now." Jiang told Gidick in 2017 that she'd never been to Hawaii (unlike Kahuna owner Oblinger) instead finding inspiration from her brother, who owns a Japanese restaurant. Jiang opened a second Poke Tea House location in August 2018 in Mt. Pleasant.
Where they are
Downtown: 441 Meeting St. Unit E
Mt. Pleasant: 627 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Suite B

When they're open
Downtown: Mon.-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. & Sun. noon-9 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

What you can order
Poke your way! Sure, there are seven house specialities ($8-$14), but with a poke your way mantra, might as well dive into the latter. Choose from sushi rice, brown rice, salad, or zucchini noodles as a base, then choose from one or two proteins including ahi tuna, chicken, scallops, seared tuna, white tuna, grilled eel, tofu, shrimp, or salmon. Mix in cucumber, edamame, cilantro, mint, ogo seaweed, mango, and others. And don't forget the sauces and other add-ons!
Why you should go
Jiang says, "we might be hidden, but we make our poke fast, tasty, and beautiful."

Poke Bros

Who they are
A chain that started in the Midwest (Ohio, even) in 2016, Poke Bros. has "24 stores and counting" across seven states. According to their website, "After the founders were introduced to the Hawaiian staple on a trip to California, the appeal of this fast and casual — while healthy — concept immediately inspired the founders to begin thinking how they could bring this unique dish to the midwest." Instead of advertising a strict poke offering, Poke Bros say they "developed their own brand of poké bowl flavor they are proud to share and call their own. Modeling similar assembly line casual dining concepts, we developed a unique way to build your 'sushi in a bowl.'"
Where they are
North Charleston: 5070 International Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant: 644-H1 Long Point Road
When they're open
North Charleston: Daily, 11 am.-9 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. & Sun. noon-6 p.m.
What you can order
Poke Bros offers six signature bowls ($9-$12.50) plus the BYOB model. Choose from white, brown, or sushi rice or mix up a couple different rices. There's also a salad base. Proteins are similar to what we've already seen with spicy chicken being the only unique standout. Additional mix-ins, toppings, and sauces are also par for the course at a poke joint, with the exception of toasted coconut and crushed cashew nuts.
Why you should go
Order ahead! They make ordering online easy — design your bowl, then add some mochi ice cream with flavors like vanilla chocolate chip, mango, and green tea.

Poke-San


Who they are
Poke-San opened in the old Parlor Deluxe spot about a year ago and according to their Instagram is a "locally, family owned business." Unlike most of their poke peers, they keep their social media presence pretty minimal. More time to focus on the raw fishies, perhaps?
Where they are
207 A Saint Philip St. Downtown
When they're open
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. & Sun. noon-8 p.m.
What you can order
Though Poke is in the name, this Spring Street spot has way more on their menu than just rice bowls brimming with fun toppings. Order sushi, sushi burritos, noodle bowls, tacos, and steam buns if you so desire. If you're strictly here for the poke, we get it. No bowls du jour, build your own. Choose from sushi rice, brown rice, or spring mix as a base; proteins include salmon, tuna, a fish combo, suzu crab, glazed pork, steak, tofu, or chicken; mix-ins include avocado, seaweed salad, and more; top it with toasted coconut, dried onion, etc.; then drizzle it with everything from spicy mayo to a sweet soy glaze.
Why you should go
Check out Poke-San if you want to sit and stay a while with a buddy who may not be into poke. They can enjoy two rolls for $12 while you dive into your bowl. Oh, and they have half-off sushi Tuesdays and Thurs.-Sat. from 5-7 p.m. 

Beech Charleston


Who they are

According to their website, Beech started with "two brothers chasing a dream of serving their community through healthy, yet fast foods." The Beech menu is modeled around the "four pillars of a balanced diet: fruit, fish, rice, and vegetables." Beech just opened their second location on Daniel Island in early 2019.
Where they are
Downtown: 315 King St.
Daniel Island: 864 Island Park Drive
When they're open
Downtown & DI: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
What you can order
No signature poke bowls here — be brave and build your own. All bowls start at $12.50 with standard protein and base offerings, except for the pickled shiitake mushrooms, that's a new one we love to see. Toppings and sauces are also what you'd expect, like avocado, seaweed salad, ginger dressing, and pineapple chunks.
Why you should go
So you can skip down King Street singing 'Life's a Beech!' The cold-pressed juices and smoothie selections don't hurt, either.

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