Recently opened at 1420 Garnet Ave., Poke & Bulgi proprietor Sookhee Kim is bringing some of her family’s home recipes from her native Korea and working culinary wonders blending them with trendy poke.
A former high school teacher in Korea who taught English, Kim couldn’t find work after coming to San Diego. So she opted to switch careers instead.
“Poke is very popular,” Kim realized after a website search, adding she was also drawn to the cuisine because, “It’s very healthy.”
It was also nice that Kim could mix in some Korean cuisine to make her culinary offerings stand out from others along the beachfront.
There are three main dishes at Poke & Bulgi. Those are poke, a raw fish or seafood salad typically made with yellowfin tuna, salmon or various shellfish. Then comes bulgi, Kim’s creative culinary dish and name, which is a marinated beef rice bowl. Thirdly there is bulgogi, “fire meat,” which is stir-fried Korean barbecue.
Kim said she wanted her restaurant patrons to be able to customize their culinary choices.
“A lot of people are not real big fans of raw fish,” she said. “I like to offer them a choice. Also, parents coming in here, many of their kids can’t eat poke. So they can come here and have bulgi or bulgogi.”
The Korean and Hawaiian tastes blend well and complement each other.
Eating at Poke & Bulgi is a four-step process. Step one is selecting the size: small, medium or large based on fish portions. Step two involves selecting a white or brown rice bowl with either raw fish and seafood or beef. The third step is to select a sauce. The final step is choosing among available ingredients to top off the entree.
Items patrons choose from include salmon, scallops, shrimp, spicy or seared tuna and albacore or octopus.
“The fish taste is very flat and there is no salt added, so you have to mix the ingredients with sauce which makes it taste better,” said Kim noting other items available to add to dishes include jalapeno peppers, edamame, seaweed salad, wasabi and cilantro.
There is both indoor and outdoor seating at Kim’s establishment. The decor is simple and tasteful employing lots of wood and tile.
So far, Kim said she’s getting lots of loyal local PB customers as well as the seasonal tourist trade.
“I’ve got regular customers who are PB residents who are eating here more and more,” she said.
The eatery does not deliver but take-out is available.
Poke & Bulgi
Where: 1420 Garnet Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.