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D.C.’s Poké Papa Brings Its Japanese and Korean Fish Bowls to a Bethesda Mall

The shop’s third location is its first outside of the District

A look at Poké Papa’s bowls.
Poké Papa is scheduled to open in Bethesda, Maryland this weekend.
Poke Papa/Facebook
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Fast-growing homegrown chain Poké Papa, which got its start in Chinatown in 2017 and expanded to Foggy Bottom last year, will cross state lines for the first time with a new location in Bethesda, Maryland.

Its third poke shop is scheduled to open at 11 a.m. Saturday in Westfield Montgomery Mall’s food court (7101 Democracy Boulevard).

Owner Kerry Chao’s customizable bowls follow the Hawaiian tradition while incorporating ingredients from Japanese, Korean, and Thai food.

Bright bowls include the best-selling Onolicious — ahi tuna marinated with hijiki seaweed, lotus root, ginger, sesame, scallion, and onion — and the K-Pop Bop (ahi tuna and salmon mixed with onion, scallion, gochujang and sesame oil). New sauces and bowls come into play every time the seasons change. The latest Poké Papa location will also introduce new desserts like mango snow ice.

Chao honed his fast-casual game over a decade ago with the debut of a pan-Asian restaurant (Okii Mama) in Columbia, Missouri.

Poké Papa claims all its hand-line caught fish comes from sustainable sources and is Fair Trade certified, with no carbon monoxide treatment.

Westfield Montgomery Mall has welcomed a flurry of new food options in the past year, with arrivals from Ejji Ramen and California chain Urban Plates.