A donut is a glorious thing and Poke Burrito, 1025 Lake St., Oak Park, is adding some of the fried golden rings to their repertoire. According to owner Jimmy Chen, adding subtly sweet and thoughtfully decorated mochi donuts feels like the perfect novelty addition to Poke Burrito’s colorful menu of poke bowls, sushi burritos, maki rolls and boba teas.

Mochi donuts, also known as pondering, were first popularized by Mister Donut shops in Japan. The dough, made with sweet rice flour, is shaped into eightball rings before being fried, glazed and decorated. Mochi donuts are lighter and chewier than their American counterparts and come in flavors like berry, cookies and cream, ube, and matcha.

“They are a completely different kind of donut and gaining in popularity every year,” said Chen. “We went on a mochi donut tour, and I thought they were something unique in that Asian-fusion style we are known for.”

Chen spent several months perfecting his version of mochi donuts; they will be made in Poke Burrito’s central kitchen located in suburban Geneva and delivered to the Oak Park location daily.

For six years, Chen and his dedicated staff have been bringing fresh poke bowls to life at the Downtown Oak Park shop. They are known for consistent food quality, thoughtful service and a genuine commitment to the community. In fact, Chen is regarded as a source of positivity in the village and sees the value in supporting other restaurants, businesses, and organizations in Oak Park and beyond.

Chen was born to hardworking parents in Fujian, China on the southeast coast of the country. They tasked him early in life with whipping up simple dishes for himself. Chen recollects scrambling eggs with tomato for himself as a boy and developing a deep appreciation for fresh seafood thanks to Fujian’s proximity to the ocean. Chen emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 13. He spent 20 years working as a sushi and teppen chef at his family’s restaurant on Chicago’s north shore before opening his first Poke Burrito in North Center Chicago. Today Poke Burrito has 10 locations in Chicagoland and Oak Park is Chen’s busiest store.

“This is a journey I have always been on,” said Chen. “I have always wanted to be a restaurateur. I am always asking myself how I can make my restaurant the best in their class — I only compete against my own standards.”

Chen is clear he would not be where he is today without his devoted staff. His employees are part of a profit-sharing model because Chen knows they are the reason for the success of Poke Burrito. And now they are set to bring trendy mochi donuts to town!

Poke Burrito
1025 Lake St., Oak Park
(708) 573-3668

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