Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Traditional Hawaiian poké is making an appearance in Williamsburg

Poke Sushi Bowl is opening a new location in Lightfoot this fall. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
Poke Sushi Bowl is opening a new location in Lightfoot this fall. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)

A new restaurant is bringing a little bit of Hawaii to Lightfoot.

Benjamin Diau is the owner of the new Poke Sushi Bowl restaurant which will open later this fall at 6596 Richmond Road. 

“It originated in Hawaii,” he said. “It’s basically a sushi unrolled with a lot more toppings and mix-ins.”

Diau said he has always enjoyed poké but for a long time couldn’t find a local place that served it.

In August, Diau opened the first Poke Sushi Bowl location in Newport News with the help of his friend Bo Zhu, who owns other locations of the franchise in Virginia.

Diau said he realized there was a market for Poke Sushi Bowl in Hampton Roads and wanted to provide the area with something culturally different that people would enjoy.

“I love to eat poké, but there were none in this area,” he said. “Eating healthy is important to me and with poké, everything is fresh. I believe in this concept.”

The restaurant will not be a sit-down location with servers, but rather an assembly-style service similar to Chipotle, he said.  

While there will be pre-designed meals available, he said a big draw is for people to choose their own ingredients. Diau added the most important thing about the poké bowls is that all the ingredients are fresh. 

Guests can fill their bowls with fish, soy, ginger and a variety of other options.

“[People] like that concept,” he said. “It’s fresh and they can customize the bowl any way they’d like. There are literally hundreds of combos.”

Diau describes the restaurant as “fast-casual” where guests can enjoy their food in a clean environment but in a more relaxed setting.

The restaurant has submitted building and sign permit applications that are currently under review, said Paul Holt, planning director for James City County.

After the permits are approved, Diau said he doesn’t expect construction on the restaurant to take more than six weeks so he is looking at opening the store in November.

While this is his second location, Diau said he is not sure what the future holds. He has thought about doing a food truck but right now he said he is just excited to bring Poke Sushi Bowl to Williamsburg.

“A lot of people have no idea what poké is,” he said. “[I] really just want to teach everyone about this great concept.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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