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Hai Poké Pops Up at Oddfellows

Rebecca Wagner Rebecca Wagner Hai Poké Pops Up at OddfellowsPhoto by Rebecca Wagner.
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A Hawaiian street food staple has crossed over 4,500-some miles to the Short North.

Mico Cordero and Nile Woodson, founders of pop-up Hai Poké, are slinging poke, a raw tuna dish, from the kitchen of Oddfellows Liquor Bar. The operation will be up and running from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights through the end of this week. A bowl will run you $10, with a veggie option available for $9.

Their poke recipe, a bowl packed with sticky rice, cubed raw tuna, and a crunchy array of veggies topped with spicy soy sauce, has been perfected over the course of several months.

Hai Poké sources their sushi-grade fish through True World, the same company that sources Tensuké Market and Nida’s. They have hopes to acquire a brick and mortar location in the near future, funded by an IndieGoGo campaign set to launch this week.

If all goes well, they plan to expand the menu to include a few of Cordero’s family Filipino recipes. They plan on staying on the path of Island-inspired street food, with three to six mainstay menu items. They have no plans to rush into securing a location, though – their short-term goal is to maintain consistency and build a Columbus following. Poke is the starring dish, but the duo is quick to say their expanding menu is meant to encompass all island food, not just Hawaiian.

“When you think ‘island,’ you picture a very clear flavor profile – colorful, bright, fresh, light, maybe spicy. Vacation in a bowl!” said Woodson. “There’s a lot of variation, but poke is our main thing.”

Roommates and business partners, the two met at a leadership conference. The duo describe their business relationship as a metaphor: the kite and the anchor.

“We’re such big dreamers. We exchange roles  – at every point, one of us is way up in the air with ideas, and the other one is like, dude, come back down,” said Woodson.

At the time, Hai Poké plans to extend their pop-up beyond Oddfellows and into other bar kitchens in the next month.

“Columbus is definitely a small town big city, and I appreciate that. People gravitate to the unfamiliar, but traditional,” said Cordero. “We want people to look at risk differently by trying our dish, and feel safe.”

For more information, visit www.haicbus.com.

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