Interview: Seth Cohen From Sweetfin Poke
Sweetfin Poke has landed on West 3rd Street but don’t be mistaken — this isn’t just another poke spot in town. Borne from the desire to bring fresh and healthy food to Angelenos while serving up something a little different, Sweetfin merges Japanese, Hawaiian and Californian influences to deliver creative yet accessible options for lunch and dinner. They’re all overseen by real chefs too — not just thrown together by people behind a counter.
We caught up with Sweetfin owner Seth Cohen to find out more about the popular poke chain, and why he decided to open his latest outpost in our West 3rd Street neighborhood.
1. What is the inspiration behind Sweetfin?
Sweetfin’s inspiration came from the birth place of poke, the Hawaiian Islands. Fresh, healthy and delicious, we wanted to bring a unique version of poke to Southern California with a chef-driven menu at an affordable price point.
2. How is Sweetfin different from the other poke shops out there?
Sweetfin combines elements from traditional Hawaiian poke and inspiration from California and Japanese cuisine to create innovative, composed and most importantly, chef-driven poke bowls. We focus on quality by using the freshest ingredients, sourcing from local farms and using sustainable practices whenever possible. Unlike most poke concepts which focus on the assembly-line model, Sweetfin bowls are prepared by line cooks and overseen by a chef and not along a station in front of the customer. Because our menu comprises raw fish and very fresh ingredients, it is imperative to make sure that our ingredients are kept in the most hygienic and temperature-controlled environment possible.
3. What are some signature or most popular items on the menu?
Our most popular signature bowls are the Spicy Tuna (below left) and Spicy Yuzu Salmon (below right). When it comes to toppings, a favorite is the crispy onions which are made in-house like all of our other menu items.
4. What are some misconceptions about poke?
With the rise in poke’s popularity over the past few years there have been many mom and pop shops that have opened up “poke concepts.” I think that the general consumer needs to be careful with regards to the places that they are consuming raw fish. There are some poke concepts that are doing things the right way but many of them have very little transparency with regards to their sourcing practices. There is a misconception that the fish quality for poke in general is of lower grade, but if consumers are discerning about where they are eating their poke they are should be served fish and produce that is of the same quality of a high-end Los Angeles sushi bar.
5. Why did you decide to open on West 3rd Street?
West 3rd Street was our 5th store opening. From the moment we opened our first store in Santa Monica, our Sweetfans (loyal Sweetfin followers) were emailing and messaging us on social media to open a store closer to West Hollywood. An incredible opportunity presented itself when the previous tenant was unable to renegotiate a deal with our current landlord and we were able to acquire a prime corner space with tons of visibility and a beautiful patio. The space also came with a beer and wine license which we will finally be able to take advantage of in the next few weeks! We love the walkability of the street and the neighborhood atmosphere that is sometimes difficult to find in LA.
6. What are your favorite spots on West 3rd Street besides your own?
I live right off of 3rd Street so I have many local favorites. El Carmen is a fun place to grab a refreshing margarita and a great taco, I eat at Gusto at least twice a month, Verve is my go-to for a coffee and pastry, and Sweetgreen is always a quick and easy option for a healthy meal.
Sweetfin is now open at 8075 West 3rd Street. Click HERE for store hours and more info.