Poke-San

Von Bounyarit (left) with her brother Sony Souvannarat, son Maxwell Bounyarit and nephew Nick Phoutthavong. Staff/Stephanie Barna

Von Bounyarit hasn't gotten around to putting her new restaurant Poke-San online yet. When they quietly opened, there were no Facebook or Instagram posts announcing it. Instead, they hung a handwritten sign on the door that said they'd be open June 4.

But the lack of advertising didn't stop neighbors in Cannonborough-Elliottborough from stopping by and welcoming Poke-San to the neighborhood. "The people here are amazing," says Bounyarit. "They were so excited when we opened. People came bearing gifts."

Bounyarit lives in Columbia where she runs a nail salon, but she was eager for the next chapter in her life since her twins are almost 18 now. "I wanted to stop doing nails, too," she says. So she partnered with her brother, Sony Souvannarat, a sushi chef who most recently worked at Rue de Jean and has owned restaurants in Wilmington, N.C., and Pinehurst, N.C. 

She says they found the space at 207A St. Philip St., the former Parlor Deluxe, as soon as it came on the market. Her brother wanted to do sushi but she added poke to the lineup. "It's popular. And we wanted to incorporate a little bit of Chipotle," she says, referring to the burrito chain that set the standard for modern fast-casual in recent years. 

Poke-San even has burritos on the menu but they are made with seaweed instead of tortillas and come stuffed with cucumber, jalapeño, crispy shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado and all sorts of other sushi-bar ingredients.  

The menu seems large for such a small space with tapas like dumpling chips and wonton chips, nacho bowls, tacos, steam buns and sushi, in addition to the bowls and burritos. "We can always scale it down," says Bounyarit. "We want people to come and try it and get their feedback."

The family-run restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner.

Follow Stephanie Barna on Twitter @stefbarna.

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