First look: Poké Poké

by Kate Richards / 28 April, 2017

Photo supplied

Jack Zhong worked nights and weekends as a kitchen hand at Gouemon Japanese restaurant in Half Moon Bay to put himself through five years of pharmacy school. His dedication to study saw him finish with First Class honours and quickly purchase two central Auckland pharmacies. But Zhong’s chosen career hid an inconvenient truth: his elderly customers who he says treated him like a grandson would frequently pass away, leaving the letterbox full of funeral invites. Zhong wells up as he tells me this, it’s clear that he is emotionally drained.

A tired man deserves a holiday and Zhong sensibly chose relaxing Hawaii before a quick jaunt to California for good measure. Here, he discovered poke – a traditional fish market street-food staple in mainland Hawaii, that’s now also popular in more upmarket venues across California. His new shop, Poke Poke, will be an amalgamation of the two styles.

Zhong’s stint at Gouemon piqued his interest in fish. He would regularly quiz the restaurant’s head chef Sachi Shiozawa about different cooking techniques, and Zhong’s passion is expressed at his new shop in his choice of produce – ingredients like glacial-farmed salmon “known for higher fat content due to cold living conditions and a more subtle flavour” from supplier Mt Cook and masago fish eggs. A seasonal scallop bowl and lobster salad dishes are a middle finger to monotony.

On the horizon are “bowls with a purpose”, created by Zhong using his pharmacy background to meet specific nutritional purposes. An IQ bowl – a “placeholder name,” jokes Zhong – features salmon, seaweed and beans to promote healthy brain function, but there will also be bowls to support muscle building, weight loss and ailments, too. Helping people is in his nature. 

There is the option to eat in at Poke Poke in either the restaurant or in Fortieth and Hurtsmere’s shared dining space. Alternatively take your bowl down to the ever-crowded, but very lovely, Takapuna Beach to enjoy. 


Poké Poké
Fortieth & Hurtsmere
40 Hurstmere Rd
Takapuna on Instagram


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