Poké (pronounced “poh-kay”) has arrived in central Indiana. The traditional Hawaiian dish gained popularity in California and has made its way to the Midwest.
Dave Tang and Brinna Voege are the co-founders of Main Street Poké, which opened on Main Street in the Carmel Arts & Design District last summer. After just a few months, they opened a second location in Fishers’ Nickel Plate District.
We sat down with the owners to learn more about the first poke bowl restaurant in Indiana.
What is Poké?
Tang and Voege said almost two-thirds of their customers are first time poké eaters. So, what is it exactly?
“It’s deconstructed sushi in a bowl,” Voege said.
Customers build their own poké bowl by first choosing protein and either a rice or salad base. They are able to get creative with unlimited toppings, in-house sauces and mix-ins.
“Bring your adventurous side and be creative,” Tang said. “Have fun - there’s no wrong way to poké!”
About Main Street Poké
It’s a unique blend of Cali and homegrown Hoosier that makes Main Street Poké so popular. Tang is a real estate developer from the San Francisco Bay area who fell in love with Hamilton County during numerous business trips. Voege is a Carmel resident, born and raised. Tang still resides in California, but visits Carmel about every month to check on his two Carmel businesses, Main Street Poké and Vitality Bowls.
“I’m certainly racking up the frequent flier miles,” Tang said.
Tang and Voege met when she began managing his first restaurant endeavor, Vitality Bowls, located just a few doors down from Main Street Poké. Tang said she has a gift for managing and motivating people. That’s why when he began to consider bringing the California flavor to Carmel, he wanted Voege on board. So Voege flew out to the San Francisco Bay area and the two spent three days eating nothing but poké. After that, she was hooked.
Together, they opened Main Street Poké in May, which is the first poké restaurant in Indiana. In fact, it’s the first poké restaurant in a 100-mile radius. The closest poké restaurants are in Chicago and Columbus, according to Tang.
Hoosier Spin on Poké
Because most Hoosiers are unfamiliar with poké, Voege and Tang added twists to cater their menu to locals. Most poké restaurants offer only fish, but Main Street Poké has added beef and chicken to their protein choices. Another Hoosier spin on poké is the addition of corn as a mix-in. Tang said he was shocked when Voege suggested adding corn to their menu because it’s virtually unheard of in Californian and Hawaiian poké bowls. After his initial hesitation, Tang says he now regularly adds corn to his own poké bowls. Tang says this suggestion is a perfect example of why Voege’s homegrown Hoosier experience makes the business unique.
Tang and Voege opened the Fishers location in December 2017. They hope to open several Indianapolis locations in the upcoming years. Tang says the most important thing in the restaurant business is believing in what you have to offer. He and Voege certainly believe in poké, and if the restaurant’s Yelp reviews are any indication, Hamilton County residents are becoming believers, too.