As spring turns into summer, the teen blocks of E Pine have added some new Pacific-flavored food and drink options including a new sibling to Poke Bar and a new hybrid cafe specializing in the wonders of both kombucha and boba.
Bobabucha Cafe opened Memorial Day weekend on the corner of 15th and Pine in the storefront formerly inhabited by Honor Coffee.
“We want this place to be somewhere people can come hang out. Boba and kombucha have been around for a while, but people have recently started to catch onto them, so Bobabucha is dedicated to both drinks,” Matthew Chaw, son of cafe owner, Linda Chaw, said.
While there are a growing set of options offering boba tea around Capitol Hill, Bobabucha seeks to provide the Hill with both fresh boba tea and kombucha. Kombucha will be served on tap, and the boba teas are homemade, with no mix-ins or preservatives. According to Chaw, the cafe’s set up allowing customers to customize their boba tea gives patrons the opportunity to ask questions about the teas and add-ins so they can explore new boba tea combinations.
“Other boba teas places in the area are great, but what we add to the table is our ten different teas and ten different add-ins. The combinations are endless.”
Meanwhile, down the Hill at 12th and Pine, Poke Bar has now been joined by its sibling franchise concept, Katsu Bar. The two restaurants are now operating in the same space hoping to provide patrons with warm and cold Japanese-inspired food options.
“We are trying to see if we can find some kind of synergy by putting the two menus together to cover different weathers. We don’t have that luxury of nice weather year round here, and since Poke Bar serves cold food, the weather is directly related to how well our store does,” Said John Kang, the chain’s Washington developer. “Our Capitol Hill location is our first restaurant where we are testing two menus in the same space out.”
Poke Bar and Katsu Bar are owned by parent company, Yanagi, a Japanese restaurant that has been serving the Los Angeles area for nearly 30 years. In 2014, Poke Bar, a casual off-shoot of Yanagi began opening locations across the country, most of which call major cities such as New York, LA, and San Francisco home.Compared to Poke Bar’s 76 different establishments, Katsu Bar is less common, adding the Capitol Hill location to three other locations in Texas.
According to Kang, Poke Bar and Katsu Bar’s system allowing patrons to customize their poke or katsu bowl has lead to the chain’s success. Kang believes adding Katsu bar to Poke Bar’s space provides customers an opportunity for further customization, as now customers can now opt for a variety of cooked proteins rather than raw fish. All combinations are supported by the company’s years of developing recipes between Yanagi, Poke Bar, and Katsu Bar.
“We serve fresh, good recipes with strong sauce combinations. There’s a lot of good poke places, but we’ve opened 70 some locations in 5 years, so we are doing something right,” Kang said. “We have a good eye for what customers want.”
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