NORTH CENTER — Poke is the hottest trend in dining, and it's coming to North Center.
Owner Caixun "Jimmy" Chen told DNAinfo he's aiming for a November opening of Poke Burrito at 4301 N. Lincoln Ave., formerly the home of Pockets. A second restaurant will open Downtown at 423 S. Dearborn St. in December, he said.
Poke — a raw fish salad served alone or over a bowl of sushi rice — is as ubiquitous in Hawaii as pizza is in Chicago. In recent years, the dish has made the leap from the islands to the mainland in a big way, and variations of it have been taking Chicago by storm.
Chen, who has 15 years of experience as a sushi chef, said he's spent the last two years honing his concept for Poke Burrito, which he introduced to customers at 153 Akira restaurant in Wilmette.
Though Poke Burrito will offer traditional poke salads and bowls, its signature item will be, as the name suggests, the sushi-burrito.
"I want to combine sushi and Hawaiian and Mexican into a very unique, delicious taste," Chen said via email.
Chen asks and answers the obvious question: "What exactly is a sushi-burrito? Is it raw fish wrapped in a burrito? Refried beans and cheese wrapped up in seaweed?"
Neither, he explained.
It's a poke bowl shaped like a sushi roll the size of a burrito.
Customers will have the option to either build their own bowl or burrito, or to choose from one of five house creations. There are cooked items for patrons wary of raw fish. Prices will range from $9.95 to $12.95.
Chen said he was drawn to North Center because of the neighborhood's vibrant restaurant scene and what he called an "alive community" of diners willing to try new experiences and food.
"We would love to become a local favorite spot," he said.
Poke Burrito's signature dish combines sushi, Hawaiian and Mexican traditions. [Poke Burrito]
Poke will also be available in more traditional bowl form. [Poke Burrito]
The Poke Burrito menu. [Poke Burrito]
Poke Burrito is set to open in November in the former Pockets location at 4301 N. Lincoln Ave. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]