Popular Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl Restaurant is Welcome New Arrival on Nassau Street
TWO IN ONE: “We offer two concepts on one site: Poké Mahi and Fresca Bowls,” says Samoil (Sani) Risteski, manager of the Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl restaurant. A variety of innovative dishes offers an intriguing dining experience, with healthy choices that taste good! The attractive and informal setting invites customers to embark on a new dining journey.
By Jean Stratton
People want to get out and be together in a restaurant — have human contact. This is so important. We are ready to offer them high quality, healthy food in a great setting, and welcoming atmosphere.”
Samoil (Sani) Risteski, manager of Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl at 142 Nassau Street (former location of Hulit’s Shoes) is enthusiastic about the new restaurant’s very positive reception.
“We opened in September, and have had an excellent response. We already have many repeat customers, and we expect it to get even better as the warm weather arrives, and we can have both indoor and outdoor eating, as well as takeout.”
Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl is a franchise operation, with locations along the East Coast. Princeton is the first in New Jersey, and is a top-notch spot, reports Sani. “Princeton is a great location for us. People here are interested in exploring new dishes, new tastes, to see what something is like. They like to try new things.”
“When you open a new place, a lot of people come in to see what it is like,” he continues. “The important thing is to get them to come back. We believe we have a lot to offer: quality, healthy, organic food that tastes good. We have the freshest ingredients, our own recipes, and a really attractive presentation of all our dishes, with eye appeal, and a wonderful atmosphere.”
He adds that the plan eventually is to establish 20 to 30 Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl restaurants all across the country. “We feel very confident of success. People really like this food, and want to eat healthier. For some, we are a new dining experience; others are familiar with Poké Mahi and Fresca Bowls.”
In fact, poké has a long history, and is an extension of the traditional Hawaiian poké or diced raw fish. Poké Mahi has transformed the original poke by infusing the traditional island recipes with popular Asian flavors.
At Poké Mahi, the dining experience begins with a “Build Your Own” focus in which customers select the ingredients and watch as the dish is prepared.
“The base is rice, then the protein — raw or seared fish, including tuna, salmon, octopus, and shrimp choices — is added, as well as a variety of vegetables and greens. Then a sauce or dressing, toppings and crunchy sesame seeds or other crispy options,” explains Sani.
Many choices are available, and among the most popular is the Taco Poké, including spicy tuna, crispy corn taco, guacamole, shredded lettuce, sushi rice, cilantro, mango salsa, roasted corn, tomato, pickled red onions, and chipotle dressing. The Traditional includes ahi tuna, sushi rice, seaweed salad, avocado, furikake, cucumber, radish sprouts, and ponzu dressing.
Varied and Delicious
The Forbidden offers seared octopus, coconut forbidden rice, red radish, avocado, pickled jalapeño, fresh mango, and chipotle aioli. Small medium, and large bowls are available.
Also very popular are the Fresca Bowls. Fresca translates to “fresh” in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, and can also have a “cool” definition in some quarters. However defined, the Fresca Bowls at the restaurant are both varied and delicious.
Acai, chia, kale, oatmeal, and pitaya bowls are all options with many choices in each category. Pesca Acai is a favorite with hemp granola, grilled peaches, banana, cherries, peanuts, and walnuts; and Frescatela offers chocolate granola, strawberries, banana, raspberries, chocolate nibs, and drizzled Nutella.
An oatmeal-based bowl includes the Milano, featuring hemp granola, toasted banana, sun-dried grapes, cranberries, and blueberries, goji, toasted peanuts, and drizzled peanut butter. Mamma Mia is a pitaya bowl, with chocolate granola, mango, banana, raspberries, coconut flakes, and drizzled Nutella.
Like the Poké Bowls, the Fresca Bowls offer options as to base, granola, fruit, drizzles, and sprinkles.
Another big favorite at the restaurant is its selection of different toasts. Served with a choice of fruits — bananas, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes, also tomatoes — onions, artichokes, nuts, and honey granola, there really is a “toast” for everyone.
Soups and salads are also on the menu, with everything from Greek to Caesar to Cobb salad, and chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, or beef barley and vegetable soup among the choices.
And a real highlight at Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl is one of its smoothies. These popular drinks are offered in many varieties, including the Green Monster with kiwi, green apple, spinach, kale, banana, matcha tea, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Power is “powered” with organic acai, strawberries, banana, vanilla protein, and choice of milk. Wonder Woman features organic acai, mango, orange juice, and banana …. and these are just a few of the possibilities.
Coca-Cola and other soft drinks, Nespresso, and bottled water are also available, and prices range from $5.99 for toast, $6 for soup and salad, $6.99 for smoothies, $9.95 for Poké Bowls, and $8.99 for Fresca Bowls.
Sani believes in a strong future in Princeton for Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl, and in addition to the sit-down dining and takeout, the restaurant has launched a catering operation. “We handle all sizes and types of events, and we already have catered events at Princeton University, including for 200 people. We do both corporate and residential parties.”
He is also pleased that Princeton University students, who are now back on campus, have discovered Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl. “Lots of students are coming in, and while our customers are all ages, we seem to appeal to a lot of young people.”
The restaurant can seat 27 inside, and plans call for an outdoor patio, with space for 24 diners.
The indoor setting with its variety of seating — large comfortable chair/low table arrangement and high benches and counters — is very appealing. Pictures of the dishes, with their bright color combinations, line the wall and are an instant attraction. As Sani notes, the presentation of the food is a very important part of the dining experience.
“An attractive presentation is crucial. The food must appeal visually. We have lots of pictures all around, showing what the dish will actually look like.”
Everything is being done to ensure that customers enjoy their time at the cafe, and that they can count on a consistently good dining experience.
“There are lots of places to eat,” points out Sani. “In addition to quality food, you need to offer a welcoming environment where customers will be comfortable and happy.”
“We never cut corners on quality,” he emphasizes. “Customers can be sure of this, and they can count on our consistency. The restaurant business is my passion. My real joy is seeing people enjoy eating, and then be satisfied and happy after a good meal when they leave. This is my great pleasure. They will remember that great dining experience, and tell their friends. We have already had great word-of-mouth.”
Sani adds that he wants Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl to build a respected reputation in the area, and become a special place that people look forward to visiting.
“We definitely want to be part of the community. On the one hand, we take from the community, when they buy our food, but we give back to the community as we support charities and organizations, including scholarship programs. And, of course, we have great food! We are very positive about this opportunity.”