With a wave of poke places washing across the Capitol Hill area, it might be difficult to pick one out of the pack, er, school but one of the newest in the neighborhood offers more than a few reasons to stop in.
“We offer many options,” Vincent Chen tells CHS. “14 different types of protein!”
Chen, his enthusiasm for “protein,” and family pride are part of what keeps his sister Hanny Ng’s Hawaii-inspired poke restaurant Fresh off the Boat cruising in Seattle with its expansion onto Broadway from its Blanchard Street start.
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The new Capitol Hill restaurant opened a few weeks back in the Broadway Building in the 1600-block of the street. It replaced another short-lived poke project that made sustainability and a chef-focus part of its pitch.
Chen says that Fresh off the Boat also recognizes that customers want to know where the fish comes from and whether the fish is wild caught or farmed but he says it’s more important to make sure the fish you eat is certified sustainable. Our troubled Puget Sound orcas would agree.
In the course of day, Fresh off the Boat currently serves 250 to 300 pounds of tuna a day. But the poke shops also offer options like shrimp, scallops, unagi, octopus, or, for land lubbers, chicken and beef. Pair that with a base like rice, kale, or arugula, and a choice of 11 sauces or dressings, and you’re in business. Bowls run $9.99 for the “two scoop” regular — $12.99 for the “three scoop” large.
The name Fresh off the Boat, of course, references ideas of freshness and the sea. But it also has important meaning to Chen and his family. “Coming from a first generation Southeast Asian immigrant background, I am aware of the history and suffrage that built up the negativity around this slur,” he tells CHS. “My intent in naming this restaurant is to shine light on that negativity and change that into something more positive in other people’s perceptions.”
The goal of the restaurant is to provide a healthy and fresh lifestyle for customers by giving them the option of having fish that is fresh as if it was “fresh off the boat,” Chen says.
“In no ways am I making any joke out of this topic,” Chen said. “I am only trying to deter this known negativity and transform it into a new positive thing.”
Chen calls the new Broadway shop “prime real estate” and said opening there with the large student population from Seattle Central and nearby Seattle University was an obvious expansion opportunity. Chen said that Amazon employees have been a big part of the first Belltown shop’s success and that their feedback also helped drive the decision to open on Broadway.
Fresh off the Boat’s Capitol Hill shop is located at 1620 Broadway. It is open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM. You can learn more at fobpokebar.com.