SPOTLIGHT: Déjà Vu interviews ... Lords of Poké

Let’s not do the really British thing here and make this a post about the weather, shall we? As much as the heat seems to be coming and going this year, we will say that if you’re looking for the perfect summer dish then you’ve come to the right place as poké is taking the London street food scene by storm, with  the Lords of Poké firmly at the helm.

Poké is essentially a raw fish salad comprised of a rice base and pimped up with lots of yummy additions. The poke itself is fresh and can vary from tuna to salmon, or even tempeh at Lords of Poké. Now you’ve got the downlow, you’ll probably recognise Lords of Poké for their vibrant signage, long queues and the fact that these guys are taking the poke force to exciting new heights with their Californian influences.

So what’s the story behind Lords of Poké?

Lords of Poké is headed up by Tom and Marty who between them have worked as a freelance web developer and have chef experience of 16 years. Having met years ago, they toyed with the idea of starting up a street food business and after realising poké was causing such a stir across the pond in California, they felt the urge to get in on the action themselves. Having rightly stated that most street food these days is fried and with a lot of the vegan street food scene being populated by “dirty vegan junk food” type places, they thought that poke would be a new, fresh route for hungry Londoners.

Starting off at Mick’s Garage in Hackney’s Crate Brewery, the guys secured a regular Saturday residency there before going through the inKERBator scheme with KERB and now being one of their regular vendors. And we mean super regular as you’ll find them doing their thing at Paddington, King’s Cross, St Katherine’s Dock, Rathbone Square, West India Quay and the Gherkin. You’ll also find them in the ever popular Peckham Levels and you can see them in action with TopJaw here. Having just opened up in Camden Market, you would’ve thought this dynamic duo would stop there but oh no, they’ve just revealed plans for opening a full bricks and mortar location in Paddington this August - a big congratulations is certainly in order!

It’s safe to say that Lords of Poké are doing well but setting up a restaurant without any investment is no easy task. Basically doing it by themselves is not the most stress-free thing in the world but it’s their work ethic, creativity and great knowledge about what they do that has seen them grow so popular as a vendor. At first glance, the menu may seem a little daunting with things like kimchi cucumber, jackfruit and napa cabbage not exactly being classic lunchtime fayre. Rest assured, the guys are on hand to listen to what you like and base their recommendations off of it. In their words, “it’s difficult to recommend one thing because they’re all really good”. We love the confidence and it’s this belief in their product that is also reflected in the brand name: Lords of Poké. When asked about the inspiration for the name, the guys talk about Californian influences and skate culture whilst also referencing Lords of Dogtown. It can be interpreted in a few different ways they say but they mention the way that ‘Lord’ in England usually means being a ‘top dog’. Of course, without any arrogance but being the top of their game is what these guys are striving for.

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Read below for more freshness from Lords of Poké:

If you could describe Lords of Poke in 3 words, what would they be?

Fresh, vibrant, creative

What’s been a standout experience you’ve had so far as a street food vendor?

Standing out in the cold for 4 hours in the snow! Actually no, the feeling of driving up to the first market we traded at (Mick’s Garage) and battling all those nervous feelings we had.

What’s your favourite market to trade at and why?

King’s Cross - it’s a nice mix of people. You get the office workers, students but also tourists too. Camden market is also very different to our usual markets as it’s an all day thing and a new vibe.

What’s the best thing about being a street food vendor?

The opportunity to get out of being a street food vendor! The food is a big day to day plus as well as the familiarity of it all and being part of a wider family of vendors. It’s quite a small world doing London street food but it’s all about hospitality and everyone looks out for each other.

Who are some of your personal favourite street food vendors at the moment?

Other Side Fried is one of our all time favourite vendors because we probably eat their stuff the most. We also love Kolkati, Baggio Burger, Zephyr and we just recently tried Chale! Far too many to list, such good food all round!

Team Déjà Vu would love to say a big thank you to both Tom and Marty for taking the time out of their hectic poké filled schedules to be interviewed for #DejaVuSpotlight. Be sure to follow the guys over on their Instagram and Twitter also.