From that first inspiring taste of traditional poké on the beaches of Hawaii, to introducing Londoners to a new way of lunching, to building our extended Island Poké family, it’s been quite a ride. This whole adventure has only strengthened the values we started with: to revolutionise fast food, operate sustainably and spread those sweet sweet island vibes.
James founded Island Poké and started trading on London’s buzzing street food markets. The reaction was insane!
James and the team proudly opened Island Poké’s first restaurant in Soho’s Kingly Street. The Island Poké family was born.
Following this success, just ten months later we opened our second store in Broadgate Circle, with beer and cocktails on tap.
We worked with founder of Yum Bun, Lisa Meyer, in our very first exciting collaboration.
Canary Wharf – only a year later we opened our third restaurant, giving hungry office workers sweet relief from sandwich-only options.
We launched our mouth-watering second collab bowl with Kricket, the modern Indian eatery.
We were super proud to launch the Island Poké cookbook, revealing the secrets of our signature recipes, plus many more modern and traditional Hawaiian dishes for you to try at home.
We collaborated with Bala Baya who brought the flavours of Tel Aviv to our poké bowls in a very successful partnership.
Phew! We opened our Great Titchfield Street restaurant.
This month saw our tasty collab with Mac and Wild – we remixed their typically Scottish ingredients and put them into a refreshing poké format.
Hold onto your hats, things were going so well that we opened our fifth restaurant in Bow Lane!
We teamed up with Claw, like-minded purveyors of sustainable seafood for a rainbow filled bowl featuring beetroot cured trout.
We joined forces with smoked meat specialists Pitt Cue to bring you the smoked caramel chicken poké bowl *drools*.
Our Island Poké fam expanded East to Shoreditch for our biggest restaurant yet.
The legendary Palm Vaults worked with us on another exciting collab, this time creating the most Insta-perfect bowl featuring beetroot nuggets and glitter wontons.
Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Chotto Matte helped us create a colourful chromotherapy guest bowl of happiness that donated 25p from each bowl to mental health charity Mind.
We were lucky enough to collaborate with top US chef Nancy Silverton who gave us the delicious Salmon Poké Nicoise bowl.
In our furthest venture West we opened our seventh Island Poké, the first poké outlet in Victoria.
The culmination of 14 months of development, we were so thrilled to finally launch our bio bowls that break down into compost in 119 days.
Drum roll please… this month saw the launch of our vegan ahi bowl – because everyone has the right to eat great poké!
The big 10! We can’t believe we’ve already done ten collaborations. Our new Red Curry Chicken and Laab Poké Bowl from Rosa’s Thai Cafe is certainly worthy of the landmark.
Our founder, James Porter, grew up between California and Hawaii. Our story begins when young James had his first taste of poké on the beach in Maui. While nine-year old kids in the UK were pining after fast food like pizza and burgers and chips, James couldn’t get enough of a fresh raw fish and rice dish eaten on the beach with the locals.
Fast-forward a couple of decades – as an adult working for Bonhams auction house, James found the lunch offerings available lacklustre, and began quietly dreaming of introducing people to the wonders of poké. Sensing the time was right, he quit his job, learnt the ropes of working with fish at Billingsgate market and began developing recipes. He road-tested the poké at Little Feast street food market and quickly found loyal fans.
James opened the first bricks and mortar Island Poké store on Kingly Street in 2016, enlisting the help of talented friends, Lauren and Hugh, among others. Their genuine friendship and good energy behind the serving counter was infectious, and customers returned not only for the food but for the laid-back and friendly Island Poké experience. This set the standard for building a close family of Island Poké employees and keeping the good vibes flowing. A flattering Timeout article really helped to blow things up and saw demand for poké bowls skyrocket.
Island Poké now continues to grow, keeping the same values it had at inception – to revolutionise the fast food scene with fresh and exciting offerings that champion quality ingredients, with the aloha spirit at its heart.
Sustainability has always been at the heart of our business. The great thing about building Island Poké from the ground up is that we have been able to take action every step of the way to build respect for the planet into everything we do.
Though raw fish is where poké started, we all know that it needs to be carefully sourced if we want to continue to enjoy it. We get all our fish from suppliers with full traceability, and have taken care to visit them in person to see their operations in action. Our tuna is long-line caught from boats that are chipped to avoid overfishing certain areas and special nets are used to make sure that no other sea life is damaged. Our salmon is sourced from a small fishing cooperative in Norway, which has strict laws on output for salmon – check the blog to find out more.
As we have grown, we have focused on expanding our menu so that we don’t have to rely solely on fish. So far, we have our revolutionary vegan poké (made from watermelon) and chicken poké made with red tractor classified high welfare meat. We are constantly on a mission to evolve the vibrant essence of Hawaiian poké into new, exciting and delicious things.
We have ditched 80% of our single used plastic (as everyone knows it’s the devil), and are super proud of our bio bowls, they took us 14 months to develop and they break down into compost in 119 days.
We are always open to learning about creative new ways to be sustainable, so if you have an idea, then let us know!