A California-based poke chain recently debuted its first Missouri location. LemonShark Poke opened on July 24 in Clayton, serving fast-casual build-your-own poke bowls and rolls as well as a selection of hot dishes and small bites such as coconut shrimp and Spam musubi.

The St. Louis-area location, which is the 18th for the brand, is run by franchise owner Lauren Adler, a St. Louis native who saw the poke trend explode on the coast while working as a beer representative for a few craft breweries in California.

“I just saw poke everywhere there and wanted to bring it back to St. Louis. There weren’t any here when I started the process to open this franchise two years ago,” Adler says. “It took a little longer than expected but we are finally open.” 

LemonShark Poke is located inside a brand-new building completed in 2017. The approximately 2,100-square-foot space features 64 seats throughout its dining area, with a walk-up ordering counter. The modern design includes a drop ceiling and fish-centric décor such as a scale-like accent wall.

“Lemon sharks don’t eat just anything – they only eat the finest fish,” Adler says, explaining the meaning behind the restaurant’s name. “It’s multifaceted in that they also stick together in groups, like a community that comes together to eat.”

Adler describes poke, which translates into “to cut,” as a Hawaiian cuisine that is essentially deconstructed sushi, available here as a bowl or in a burrito-style roll. Build-your-own options are the most popular way to enjoy the shop’s specialty, but signature options are also available. For instance, the Maui Heat Wave comes with spicy tuna, spicy salmon, cucumber salad, avocado, serrano chile, green onion, carrot, crispy garlic, ginger, spicy ponzu and spicy mayo.

In addition to the proteins mentioned above, LemonShark features numerous other options: ahi tuna, shrimp, salmon, miso-glazed salmon, crab salad, squid salad, traditional Hawaiian ahi, herb tofu and vegan tuna, or Ahimi, made from tomatoes in a soy glaze. Customers can also customize everything from the toppings, sauce and a crunchy element to the base, which includes one of Adler’s favorite options: black rice, which is high in fiber and antioxidants.

Hot appetizers and entrees, which have an Asian-fusion influence, include teriyaki chicken, coconut shrimp, fried vegetable egg rolls, tempura green beans and Spam musubi. To drink, choose from Stubborn fountain sodas, coconut water, housemade lemonade in flavors such as açaí and more. Beer, wine and sake will also be available in the future.

LemonShark Poke is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 8pm, Friday through Saturday from 11am to 9pm and Sunday from 11am to 8pm.

LemonShark Poke, 33 N. Central Ave., Clayton, Missouri, 314.300.8890, lemonsharkpoke.com

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