Success of traditional Hawaiian poké bowl accelerates expansion plans

From presenting a unique proposition to Singapore’s diners when it opened its first doors in 2015 to establishing a current top-of-the-list food trend today to celebrating its momentous Second Anniversary and looking well into the future in Singapore and beyond its shores…there is no stopping Aloha Poké.

Starting out as an ambitious business plan in the face of an already competitive food and beverage landscape, Aloha Poké is now one of the most popular lunch go-tos around town. For the four founders – John Chen, Lee Yue Xian, Paladin Hsu and Selene Ong – it has become a whirlwind Singapore-dream success story but not without its trials and errors.

In under 24 months, five Aloha Poké outlets are collectively serving up at least three tons of fish per month to customers in the CBD and city centre, alongside one Deliveroo Editions kitchen operating in the East. With its second birthday just around the corner, the home of traditional Hawaiian poké now plans to open up to 12 more outlets in Singapore, in line with its commitment to bringing the joys of the poké bowl closer to customers island-wide. Looking ahead, Hong Kong is expected to say “aloha!” to the poké phenomenon within this year’s Q3 as the founders concurrently consider options in Australia, China and Bangkok, as well as the other South-East Asian markets, including Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur.


“Just like sushi, we believe the poké bowl is here to stay,” said John Chen, Co-Founder of Aloha Poké. “While there are new poké brands popping up across Singapore, sales in our existing outlets continue to increase steadily over time as more people become aware of the poké bowl concept. We are confident that this will be the preferred choice of healthy diners in Singapore.”

Remaining focused on keeping the success momentum going, Aloha Poké strives “to ensure the delivery of consistent quality and service across all outlets. At the same time, we must innovate continuously with new poké flavours and introduce new items to keep our customers coming back for more. Just like in Hawaii, it will never be a dull day at Aloha Poké!”

As committed purveyors of freshness, Aloha Poké sources its salmon and tuna from Norway, Tasmania, Indonesia and the Philippines, receiving daily deliveries and preparing all poké offerings from scratch every day – nothing from the menu is kept overnight. And, due to the concise menu across all outlets (with salmon and tuna being the primary offering), it has now become the largest consumer of tuna in Singapore. With these economies of scale, the company finds itself in the favourable position of negotiating good prices from suppliers and ensuring the freshest catch available in Singapore, keeping the poké proposition consistent and full of flavour.

Aloha Poke - Standard Nalu - Salmon in Spicy Sauce (4)

Based on current statistics, each Aloha Poké outlet can expect to sell an average of up to 114kg of fish and an average of two poké bowls per minute during the two-hour lunch window per day. Moreover, with the understanding of how precious the lunch hour can be, it is important for customers to enjoy their poké bowl, which is why the team is trained and committed to preparing each lunch bowl within 5 minutes –from when the order is made and paid for to collection point – to get the queues moving swiftly.

The First Aloha

It all began when two couples, long-time friends, went to Hawaii for a well-earned holiday and it was “love at first taste” when they discovered the traditional Hawaiian poké (pronounced “poh-kay”). With nothing like it available at the time in Singapore’s booming foodie playground, the first poké was created and perfected in John Chen’s kitchen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Prior to setting up their Hawaiian venture, the four founders – John Chen, Lee Yue Xian, Paladin Hsu and Selene Ong – worked in the banking industry and the only experience among them in food and beverage was their keen interest and shared love for good food. Today, each continues to play a key role in running and sustaining the business: Paladin and Selene take care of the overall operations, including new outlets setup, kitchen and service delivery; Yue Xian, the self-professed nerd and MENSA member, looks after finance, accounting and payroll; and John handles all business development matters.

Putting the Aloha into Every Day

The poké is a power lunch bowl of fresh greens, white or brown rice, with a generous serve of sashimi grade tuna or salmon prepared in three signature flavours of Original, Wasabi Mayo and Spicy; topped off with an equally generous choice of superfoods (including avocado, pomegranate, edamame, and flying fish row just to name a few). Customers can also enjoy tried and tested seasonal flavours such as the favourite Mentai Salmon, while vegetarians have the option of the Nutty Sesame Tofu. Some of the new poké flavours featured as daily options include Kimchee Tako (octopus), Black Pepper Tuna, Ginger Ponzu Salmon and more.

Aloha Poke - Standard Nalu - Tofu in Nutty Sesame Sauce (2)

The usual three size options to satisfy all appetites include the Lil Swell (75g of poké) at $11.90, the Standard Bowl (150g of poké) at $15.90 and the Big Kahuna (225g of poké) at $19.90. Drink options include Cocoloco and cold pressed juice from Juix Up ($5.90 each).

The newest poké offering that recently launched at the new CityLink Mall outlet is the Pokéritto, a wrapped and lightly toasted bundle of deliciousness and a new way to enjoy poké. Available in two sizes – the Iki ($11.90) and Nui ($15.90) – it is filled with all the goodness that fans have come to expect of the Aloha Poké bowl, presenting a wholesome, hearty meal that can be customised with favourite poké flavours, add-ons and superfoods. While the poké is great with almost anything, this irresistible wrap offers customers the joy that only comes with eating with hands and is guaranteed to satisfy poké cravings.

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