1505 SE 31st Ave
at Hawthorne Blvd.
11 am – 9 pm
“We eat with our eyes,” said Chef Ian Hung, one of the co-owners (along with David Lo) of SeaSweets Poke on Hawthorne Blvd. The beautifully displayed containers of ingredients for a poke bowl are appetizing looking as well as curiosity-generating. Selections like hijiki edamame, kimchee corn, furikake and sambal guacamole look delicious, but what exactly they are to a novice eater of poke must be tasted to savor the complete experience.
In short, poke is marinated fish served over rice or shredded kale with a variety of toppings and side dishes. The poke served at SeaSweets is partly traditional and partly a creation of Chef Hung’s American/Asian combination.
Ian at first thought he wanted to pursue the higher education career path, but soon realized that was not for him. He enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where he learned the foundation of preparing American and western European food.
David always wanted to open a restaurant. Since the beginning of their friendship at business school, the main topic of conversation was always around food or what food they would try next. They are first generation children whose ancestral home is Taiwan. The preparation of food and meals together were an important part of both of their early lives.
“Poke is a marinated platform to showcase flavors,” Ian said. It is a traditional Hawaiian dish with the main ingredient of marinated fish. SeaSweets Poke serves albacore tuna, salmon, spicy tuna, ahi tuna, shrimp and scallops, plus tofu for the vegetarians. Each one is in its own special marinade. An example is the marinade for ahi tuna: scallion, sweet onion, ginger, inamona (condiment or relish used in traditional Hawaiian cooking made from roasted kukui nut (candlenuts) and salt), chili flakes, sesame oil and shoyu.
The base is either white or brown rice or finely chopped kale then the marinated fish. Then there is another taste delight: the sides. These include a seaweed or krab salad, hijiki edamame (soybeans), kimchee corn, daily pickle, li hing cabbage slaw, sambal guacamole (Asian avocado spread), tofu and soft-boiled eggs.
Then there are toppings: spicy mayo, wasabi mayo, wasabi pepper, fried crispy onions, nori and furikake, a dried mixture of fish, sesame seeds, seaweed, sugar and salt – and of course the siracha and soy sauce.
Each of the menu items are a combination of the traditional Mandarin food the two men ate growing up and ingredients from the western palate. “We liked experimenting with ingredients to create flavors that were Asian influenced with an American spin,” Ian said. Everything is made on-site.
A tasty example is the Wintermelon Lemonade. If you have ever wondered what those great big prickly melon shaped things were at the Asian grocery story, now you know. Often used in soups and stews, here they are used to flavor lemonade and it’s wonderful.
Another interesting beverage is the Bone Tea. “At the end of every meal we were given a tea similar to the one we are serving here this month that would cleanse the palate and balance the system,” David said. The tea is a combination of a bone broth and herbs; some of them star anise, Chinese licorice root, dong quai (angelica sinensis), goji berries, and solomon’s seal rhizome. They will be doing a seasonal change in February..
When they found this location David and Ian were pleased. Not only was it a great location but the building was still under construction so they were able to work with an interior designer to give the place a modern sea theme.
The interior is bright and light while the outdoor seating is colorful and comfortable and getting ready for spring. The big fish graphics on the corner of SE 31st and Hawthorne make it hard to miss.
For an Asian fast food experience, SeaSweets Poke is the place to try. They offer sit down, take out and delivery.