Exclusive Interview: Johnny Ung and Sandra Kwon from Poké Time, Robson, Vancouver

I have been searching all over Vancouver for the best poké bowl after our Honolulu trip last year. There were no poké shops back then. All of a sudden, this summer, so many are opening up in Vancouver. I want to focus on Poké Time because of the variety of fresh ingredients and the sauces they offer. My favourite is actually a sauce you may have never heard of if you are not familiar with Korean food. I like mine with their version of gochujang called gochu chilli which is made with spicy Korean red pepper paste and some secret ingredients. My second choice would be the Hawaiian original which might bring you a bit closer to Hawaii if you miss the poké  bowls there.

If you are not into poké  bowls, they also offer Dole Pineapple Whip Soft Serve from Hawaii! Meet Johnny Ung and Sandra Kwon, the duo behind Poké Time.

Our exclusive interview with Sandra:

What inspired you to open Poké Time?

Johnny’s background is in business start-ups and IT and mine is in hospitality management, franchising, and finance. Johnny is from LA and I’m from Vancouver. We spent a lot of time travelling back and forth and finding new places to eat. When Johnny was in Vancouver, he asked me to take him to a poké bar and I didn’t know what it was. He then took me to my first ‘outside of Hawaii’ poké experience in LA and it was so delicious. We tried so hard to find a poké bar in Vancouver and although there were restaurants offering poké, the build your own bowl experience was missing which is what we enjoyed the most. That was when we made the decision to open one up!

What are your favourite combinations and with which sauces and toppings?

Johnny and I both love ‘the works’ which is pretty much all the toppings and mixers that we currently have. Hawaiian original is our favourite as it is our homemade sweet soy sauce with sesame oil. We also like to add extra sauce drizzles such as the sriracha aioli on top along with all the crispies!

What types of sauces do you have?

Currently we have 6 sauces you can choose from: Hawaiian Original (sweet soy), Tarty Ponzu (sour), Roasted Sesame, Sriracha Aioli, Wasabi Aioli, and Gochu Chilli (spicy korean red pepper paste). We also introduced a gluten free soy based Hawaiian Original. You just need to ask for it!

How did you come up with the recipes?

The freshness of all the fish and vegetables are important, but the key to the delicious bowls is the sauces! It took us many tasting sessions and help from our family, friends, and the public to create these sauces. Each flavour is so different and we have a sauce to accommodate any taste bud.

Other than poké bowls, what else do you offer on the menu?

Poké rollers. (poké burritos or pokirritos) We are also the only shop in the city to offer Dole Pineapple Whip Soft Serve.

A couple poke rollers


Will you be launching any new items?

We are consistently thinking of new items. We will also have monthly promotional menu items!

Would you say your poké is similar to Hawaiian style, LA style or would you say Poke Time is something uniquely different?

We have a little bit of everything. But I think we are creating our own style. We are constantly adjusting to what Vancouverites are looking for. Our rollers, toppings and sauces are definitely unique. We also are very proud of our staff. They are absolutely amazing and when you step inside our store you will always be greeted with a smile and will feel that fun positive vibe.

What is your pricing for poké bowls?

$10.95 for 2 scoops of protein and $12.95 for 3 scoops of protein. With exception of some premium add-ons, all topping and mix-ins are included.

There is also a set menu if you don’t want to think about what to choose.

Where was the best poké bowl you have had outside of Vancouver?

We loved pokiholic in LA. They have an amazing selection of proteins. They stick with one amazing sauce and all you do is choose how spicy you want your Poké.

Thanks for speaking with us, Sandra!

At the soft opening, I tried to be creative with my creation.

Poké Time
1258 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C2


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