Poke Bros. are not really your “bros”

Michelles custom made salad

Michelle’s custom made salad




Poke Bros. 3835 East Main, St. Charles 60174 (630.945.3399)

 Bowls $10-$17; Sides $6.50; Desserts $4-$5.50

If you like the fast, aggressive service paired with a filling, refreshing meal, Poke Bros. is for you.

Just after 4:00 p.m. on a somewhat windy and gloomy day, the two of us, both sushi-loving reporters, speculated about our surroundings before entering the unknown. Walking into Poke Bros. in St. Charles, we were greeted strangely: a big, light brown bear seated by himself at a wooden table in the restaurant, his hands outreached. 

Looking beyond Mr. Bear, a good variety of toppings, proteins, sauces and more were displayed above the counter, waiting for our order. Everything seemed to be in its place. Poke Bros. was a clean space in general, and while there was no inviting smell  welcoming customers to the restaurant.

Our review is not relegated to a single experience, either. We went back for a second time to ask follow-up questions, but the staff simply refused to answer any of our questions. Not only did these reporters find their lack of responses to be rude, but we were left with a new question: what is Poke Bros. hiding that the public? What are we, as diners, unaware of? 

A lonely bear awaits . He likely hopes you will finish ordering your bowl and sit next to him.
(Photo by Thania Villagran)

Poke Bros is a chain restaurant with over 40 locations across 8 states. Some of the locations serve beer, wine and sake, but most stick to the fast-casual model. The concept was developed by three partners — Scott McCarthy, Anthony Wellman and Xuegong Chen — all of whom had restaurant experience, in Ohio in 2016.

(Poke, for those who do not know, is either a raw or lightly cooked fish dish served with vegetables and sauce.) 

No customers were in sight at Poke Bros. on Sept. 3, when we visited, so we did not wait long for service. As soon as the employee working the counter heard the doorbell ring, she rushed to the front to greet us. The cashier, a young woman, waited patiently as we casually walked up to the counter to see our options, and kept quiet until we broke the silence and started ordering. 

The woman who was attending us seemed a bit aggressive, repeating loudly what toppings Thania wanted for her bowl. It was clear she just wanted to provide fast service, but her manner was brisk and lacked a certain friendliness. On the other hand, Michelle was attended by a young adult male who was fairly composed, and not nearly as loud as the woman. 

While there is little service to be had at a fast-casual restaurant, it must be noted that the amount of avocado the male crew member added to Thania’s bowl was hardly fair: she paid extra, and yet received a rather small amount as the two meals were prepared behind the counter for us to take to one of the empty tables. 

Michelle ordered a bowl that consisted of sushi rice, cucumber, avocado (+$1), masago (+$1), and crab sticks(+$1), ginger, green onions, tofu, and for my protein I decided to go with spicy salmon, topped with sriracha aioli and sweet soy. Sprinkled with tempura flakes.

Michelle enjoyed her bowl, she liked the tempura it added but hated the seaweed salad, it was too acidic for her liking and overall would skip it on her next visit. Michelle got a good variety of different toppings all that she said topped well with one and the other. Would definitely come back for more

Thania’s bowl, on the other hand, started with a salad base. She requested a crab stick (+$1), extra avocado (+$1), carrots, cucumber, shrimp, and sauces. 

Thania very much liked her bowl, although the shrimp needed some seasoning, and the dish  was too bland and cold. She enjoyed the crab stick, as it was small and separated into skinny strings like light spaghetti. Not to mention the sauces (being sriracha and sweet soy sauce) added a good kick to wrap the goodness of the chilled but refreshing salad.

Poke Bros. is definitely worth checking out if you want something fresh, but the meals can be pricey considering what you get with a basic order, and the many upcharges the restaurant tacks on. Overall, we would recommend the restaurant, but keep in mind the menu is limited to poke bowls or mochi (ice cream).