A chef-driven spin on Hawaiian poke in DTLA

By Grace Jidoun

Poke is LA's latest raw fish fixation, with fast-casual storefronts popping up all around the city, usually with assembly line–style build-your-own bowls. But not so here. Steve Chen, the 29-year-old owner who learned to cook from his Grandpa, has created something different: a modern, sit-down setting with a seasonal, chef-driven menu. "Everyone is going the same direction with poke, and we wanted to do something different. We're always trying new ideas," he says.

Given the punny names—Straight Outta Tofu, Truffle Trouble—the food is surprisingly elegant. In the Shrimpin' Ain't Easy appetizer (pictured), Chen stuffs a split Hawaiian roll with chile-spiced shrimp, Masago, and delicate strips of nori. The specialty of the house? If you guessed something along the lines of the traditional tuna rice bowl, you'd be on the right track. But there are more unusual offerings here, too, like the Coco Bae, featuring scallops with serrano chile, toasted coconut, and garlic chips. The beautifully presented Hama Time, a mound of rice topped with citrus-marinated hamachi, edamame, and cilantro, is garnished with slices of electric pink watermelon radish. And then there's the tuna burger. A creation like no other, it sports chunks of spicy ahi tuna topped with julienned vegetables and finished off with crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos, a shockingly tasty idea that came to Chen in a dream. Really.

The minimalist-cool space in Downtown's Historic Core reflects Chen’s creative-yet-refined sensibility, with seating around a U-shaped counter and graphic art on the wall. If you've always thought of rice bowls as a meal to wolf down while on the go, this place might change your mind.


Mon–Sat 11:30 AM–9 PM
Closed Sunday

price range

$10 (Straight Outta Tofu) to $14 (Hama Time)