HANFORD — New restaurant 201 Kitchen opened this month and customers are excited to try its poke bowls, a dish that has become popular in the rest of the state.
Poke is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine, and sometimes as a main course. The popular ahi poke is generally made with yellowfin tuna. Adaptations may feature raw salmon or various shellfish as a main ingredient served raw with the common "poke" seasonings.
Customers at 201 Kitchen call out to Sunny Law, the owner and chef of the restaurant, as they walk in. Many of them are already familiar with his other local eateries including Boba Island and Sushi Table in Lemoore.
“I came in the first week,” customer Phil Wren said. “The food is great. I actually like Sunny’s other restaurants. I’m a big fan.”
The restaurant opened on Sept. 23, and Law said has seen a large number of first-timers coming in to try the poke bowls.
Law likes to have a good relationship with customers and believes offering a good service has helped him stay in business and why he has opened the new restaurant in Hanford.
“Now mostly people like to eat healthy food, so the people like the sushi. [Poke bowls] are very popular because you can decide on the toppings,” Law said.
He likes to put seaweed noodles and kale with quinoa in his poke bowl, but says that part of the poke bowls popularity is because of the options it allows people to have.
“It’s good to have other options besides hamburgers all the time,” said customer Jeff Gaines. “I like sushi, and it’s good to have something different.’’
Customers that come into 201 Kitchen have a multitude of choices starting from the basics for their poke bowls. Ingredients include sushi rice, steamed white rice, brown rice, cabbage slaw with creamy sesame dressing, quinoa and kale salad with miso dressing, or a mixed green salad with Asian vegetable vinaigrette for the first choice.
They can then add their second topping choosing tuna, salmon, spicy tuna, or seared tuna.
For those who are not comfortable with the raw fish or raw food, cooked shrimp, crab, tofu and hokkigai, which is a Japanese clam, are also offered as toppings.
Third topping options include edamame, cucumber, seaweed noodles, fresh seaweed, sweet onions, green onions, pickled ginger, jalapenos, sweet corn and cilantro.
After the main ingredients are chosen, customers can choose from different types of sauces and at the very end can add crunchy toppings like cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, shredded nori, bonito furikake, crispy onions, sesame seeds and classic shoyu togarashi sesame.
The spicy yuzu sauce is the most popular, Law said. The restaurant also offers a spicy yuzo salmon bowl made up of sesame-soy, spicy seasonings, edamame, cucumber, seaweed, sesame seeds and white and green onions.
Boba drinks are also offered at 201 Kitchen with a variation of up to 32 flavors that can be ordered iced or slushed in either a regular sized drink for $3.95 or a large sized drink for $4.95.
Apart from the poke bowls, Law also plans to add a few sushi rolls in the coming weeks as soon as his staff becomes better trained.
“We decided to get this (poke bowls) started first, and we are also training the [employees] first,” Law said.
Fanny Law, his wife and also a chef, will be taking turns with Sunny Law to make sure all three of their restaurants are functioning and with training their employees.
“I hope to hire more employees so they can get a job. I mostly train the people from high school,” Sunny Law said. “It’s really hard [for them] to find a job because they don’t have experience. That’s why I always like to hire new people and help them by training them so they can have more experience.”
Sunny Law graduated from the Culinary Business Institute and trains at the Culinary Institute of America.
He will be participating in this year’s Signature Chefs Auction in Clovis in support of the March of Dimes for the ninth year in a row.