New poke shop looks to bring aloha to ABQ

Pokelulu, a new poke restaurant in the Northeast Heights, is looking to bring aloha to the 505.

The restaurant, at 5901 Wyoming NE, opened July 30, and co-owner Jenifer Duarte said it is meant to bring a more traditional version of the popular Hawaiian dish to New Mexico.

Poke is a dish made with diced raw fish, typically served over rice with toppings and a sauce.


Pokelulu also offers a kale salad instead of rice, and has cooked proteins in addition to raw fish options.

The Ma’Puna Tuna bowl from Pokelulu, which opened at the end of July, at 5901 Wyoming NE. (Liam DeBonis/for the Albuquerque Journal)

To keep with tradition, Duarte said the restaurant uses such Hawaiian ingredients as purple rice, a type of high-protein grain made with black and white rice, Maui onion, bubu balls and traditional sauce recipes.

Ingredients are also prepped throughout the day in order to maintain freshness.


“Certain items we’re making in small batches throughout the day; that way, we can make sure it’s fresh,” she said. “… We want to make sure that our quality’s there.”

Duarte is no novice when it comes to seafood-based culinary restaurants.

She and Michael Broder, one of the other co-owners of Pokelulu, also started the San Diego-based franchise Sushi Freak, which has two Albuquerque locations.

Duarte said that plans for Pokelulu began a year ago and, like Sushi Freak, she hopes to eventually franchise the concept.

The interior of Pokelulu on the corner of Academy and Wyoming. (Liam DeBonis/For the Albuquerque Journal)

Pokelulu employs 12 people and the roughly 1,000-square-foot restaurant has limited indoor seating.

Duarte said the choice to limit indoor seating was inspired partially by COVID-19, adding that the food lends itself to takeout.

“We’re serving everything cold, except for the rice, so it’s a good takeout food that travels well,” she said.


Items range from $8.95 to $10.95 and toppings are unlimited.

Orders can be placed in person, over the phone or online, and the restaurant will eventually add delivery.

Pokelulu is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, find Pokelulu on Facebook or Instagram.