It was a cold, blustery Saturday night when I headed to Jomin’s pajama party. When I walked in, I was immediately impressed with the cheese spread and accouterments (props to Jomin and Cia for coming hard with their cheese game!) and I took more than my fair share of the brie (as always).
As I loaded up my plate, my podcast partner Brad called me over from a few feet away. I walked over, and he meekly squeaked, “This is Becca and Tiffany,” motioning to two women I hadn’t yet met. “They have a food truck called…” he paused and turned to them, “…what’s it called again?”
I was psyched to meet two people who had the ambition to start a food truck, but what’s poké?
Tiffany Ting and Becca Brady, the two entrepreneurs who had just come back from a long day of running their Hometown Poké truck, explained it to me. Poké is a rice bowl of sushi-grade fish and vegetables, tossed in a sauce packed with bold Asian flavors like sesame, soy sauce and citrus.
“Damn! It’s like a sushi bowl?” I was psyched. It has a lot of the same sushi ingredients, but poké is Hawaiian in origin. I loved the idea of a way to eat that kind of cuisine on-the-go. In my food truck experience, it was a totally new direction. A food truck serving poké bowls in Providence sounded perfect for the city. I wanted to grill them about it because I love hearing about passionate people following their hearts, and honestly I love learning about the behind-the-scenes of things I care about. I wanted to know about how these two women went from saying, “Hey let’s open a poké food truck,” to owning and operating a poké food truck.
As they wondered where all the brie went, I promised them that on Monday, I’d be visiting them at their Waterman Street stop. Monday came, and I made good on my promise. I met up with Becca and Tiffany at the truck and was supremely impressed by what I saw. I also eventually got to talk to them about how Hometown Poké came about!
After about seven months of work getting things going, they started operating in September 2017. Becca told me, “We talked about starting our own business for years. We hated our corporate jobs, so it was nice escapism for us to dream and talk about it. Every idea we came up with was related to food. In 2016, we traveled to Australia and New Zealand together and made up our minds to pull the trigger.”
This is the part of the story that always interests me most. The pursuit of a dream in the face of the unknown, and unavoidable speed bumps. “The most traumatizing [moment] was probably when our trailer unhitched on 95. It was the day that we were taking it in to be designed,” Becca relayed the horror. “I hit a pothole and next thing I know, I see our trailer, that we just poured our savings into, coming up along the right-hand side of the truck. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god. There goes all of our money and please don’t kill anyone.’ Fortunately, I was in the farther right lane. The trailer hit the jersey barrier and came to a complete stop. It could have been worse, but that moment is still one of the top 10 most traumatizing.”
The most important thing was trying the food — and I loved it. I asked them what I should get and they recommended the Hometown Classic bowl — ahi tuna, atlantic salmon, hometown Hawaiian sauce, cucumber, crab, onion, seaweed, salad, furikake and wonton crunch over white rice. I trusted them and was very happy I did. It was a delicious lunch; filling yet light, and full of delicious, sushi-grade protein. I was delighted to find a food truck option that was so high-quality and so enticing.
My last question was the one I had been most excited for. I finally worked up the nerve to ask Becca about the surely violent, frightening, cut-throat rivalry that MUST exist in the Providence food truck scene. She laughed at me.
“There are no Bloods vs. Crips food truck rivalries, really! We’re really lucky that the food truck and food business communities in Providence are so amazing. On our first day, we rolled up to Waterman Street with no idea what we were doing and Sun from Lotus Pepper got out and introduced herself and then moved her truck so we could fit in behind her. And we’re probably her most direct competitor since we both have Asian food. But, that’s just how this community is. It’s welcoming and supportive and amazing.”
So unfortunately, if you’re looking for ’80s-style food truck gang wars, Hometown Poké may not be the place for you. But if you’re a sushi fan and you’re looking for a new, fresh, super delicious and healthy lunch in Providence, there is no better option.
Check out Hometown Poké at hometownpoke.com for their complete menu, social media information and contact form for catering and questions.
To see the current locations of local food trucks, visit motifri.com/food-truck-locator, brought to you by FoodTrucksIn RI (foodtrucksin.com), a Providence-based company allowing users to find local food trucks or food trucks in over 1,300 cities nationwide.