A month before the pandemic hit the U.S., Eric Choi and his brother, Inseok Jang, decided to open up a restaurant that they saw a market for in the Auburn-Opelika area.
Since then, their decision to open a quick serving poke and ramen restaurant called Pokémen, they have continued their restaurant despite the barriers the pandemic may have brought.
Although poke is a Hawaiian dish, Eric Choi, the manager of Pokémen, said he has noticed that many Japanese restaurants around serve poke. He also observed a gap in the market for a quick-eats stop for poke and ramen bowls, he said.
“Our restaurant is not [a] fine dining restaurant,” Choi said. “We tried to make it simple for the trend because even if there was no pandemic our restaurant is 50% to-go orders.”
Although they offer other Japanese foods such as dumplings and ramen, poke bowls are their most popular dishes, Choi said.
Pokémen serves five different types of ramen bowls, including udon, and customizable poke bowls. Since poke bowls are made up of fresh fish and vegetables, Choi said the restaurant is preparing food up to four times a day.
“The customers see, our station is open,” Choi said.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
If seeing the fresh fish and vegetables being prepared wasn’t enough, Choi said that he eats from the restaurant almost every day.
“I still have a poke bowl and a ramen bowl every day,” Choi said.
He said that there are so many options when creating a poke bowl that it can be different every day.
Choi said he has some daily or regular customers that choose to eat most of their lunches or meals from Pokémen as well.
Choi mentioned wanting to put new dishes on the menu when possible.
“My brother and I are trying to make another recipe,” Choi said.
He hopes to bring stir-fry noodles or Japanese chicken katsu to the menu in the future if possible.
Pokémen is located on Frederick Road near Opelika and offers curbside pick up and delivery.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman