Food & Drink

Raw fish with stylish twists: Poke Burri opens Wednesday in Midtown Detroit

December 10, 2019, 6:08 PM by  Alan Stamm

Sushi "tea sandwiches" are a Gram-ready innovation. (Photo: Instagram/Poke Burri)

Get set for familiar-looking foods that aren't what they appear to be.

Poke Burri, opening Wednesday in Midtown, is the first Michigan franchise of an innovative Atlanta start-up that cross-breeds sushi corn dogs, sandwich triangles, burritos and nachos.

The site at 70 W. Alexandrine St., the Strathmore Apartments building between Cass and Woodward, has been simmering more than a year. We and others reported Detroit as a site in October 2018, before a location was secured.

"We are essentially hoping to open in three to six months," co-founder Seven Chan told The Detroit News 14 months ago. 

Now local owner Mohamad Atwi is ready to serve camera-ready fare that includes sushi shaped like doughnuts, corndogs and pizza triangles. (Photos below.)

Poke Burri also serves conventional poke bowls ($12-$15) with tuna, salmon, kimchee, crab, shrimp or crispy tofu and sushi burritos ($10-$12) filled with rice, vegetables, and salmon, tuna, crab, tofu, chicken or shrimp tempura. (See the one-page menu.)

Poke Burri expanded from Georgia's capital to Raleigh, N.C., in spring 2017. At the start of this year, it announced no-timing-yet plans for franchises in Denver, Tampa, Houston and Nashville 

The small Detroit space (about 900 square feet) had been Le Petit Zinc restaurant until last April. Hours reportedly are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Atwi, a 30-year-old Dearborn entrepreneur, is a former Ford Motor Co. product service engineer and analyst, the Detroit Free Press wrote last year.  

He joins a trendy niche. Yuzu Sushi Co. on Woodward in Royal Oak three years ago became the first locally to begin slinging sushi burritos. Pokē Pokē opened last spring at 4501 Woodward in Midtown, just one-third mile north of Poke Burri.

An industry magazine, Restaurant Hospitality, suggests that some poke chains may be short-lived. "Like fro-yo and cupcakes, a shakeout of the trendy segment appears imminent," senior editor Nancy Luna wrote in May 2018.

For now, though, here's what is or could be served at this area's newest choice. Instagrams from the Atlanta company include items that may be off-menu selections available by request in Detroit:

This sushi-stuffed pinapple is a seasonal novelty.
Poke cones are among the creative crossovers.
"Boxes of chocolates are so overdone. Think of gifting your special people a box of sushi donuts instead," Poke Burri suggests. They're $6 each. (Toppings and sauce extra.)
A departure from Detroit-style pizza slices: Nori traingles topped with fish, scallions, cucumbers and spicy mayo.
Sushi on a stick. Who says corn dogs are just for county and state fairs?
More donuts that aren't fresh from the oven. Salmon, tuna, spicy tuna and crab salad.
Different styles bring different smiles.

Tokyo Fries are "a secret menu item" in Atlanta.

An array of selections, incuding fried sushi rings at top left.

Poke Burri founders Ken Yu and Seven Chan in Atlanta.


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