- 333 St. Mary Avenue
If there’s one thing that was missing from downtown’s network of restaurants, it was those distinct island vibes.
Since introducing her fresh fruit smoothies and juices, and the popular “Hawaiian fast food,” delicious poke bowls (made with vegetables and raw fish), Vivian Do has proven just this. With a steady slew of customers visiting Hawaii Kai in Cityplace every day for a nutritious lunch or sip, she’s already looking at expanding into additional locations.
Poke bowls’ popularity is gaining traction worldwide – not just in the 50th state. These salad or rice bowls are usually anchored by cubes of raw seafood (like ahi tuna or salmon) mixed with sauces and onion.
As a tasty alternative to a boring old salad, poke bowls are a great guilt-free indulgence.
Do found her calling by filling a healthy niche among Cityplace’s vendors, and business was busy even through her first three summer months at the indoor mall.
“When looking for a store, I thought, ‘the food court is just fast food.’
“I want to make refreshing, healthy meals for office workers.”
“Kai,” which is a Hawaiian word for the sea, was chosen deliberately to associate the restaurant with the comforting and rejuvenating vibes of the sea. Just as research shows people can feel better simply for being in the presence of an ocean, Do built her business around channeling that same feeling that people can get after a gratifying, satiating and healthy meal.
Sharing the nutritional values of her whole menu and facts about the antioxidants in her teas isn’t just a ploy for social media – she has a grander plan for Hawaii Kai’s presence in Winnipeg.
“I want to make Winnipeg a healthier city – try to make people eat good and then they’re going to feel good about it.”
With previous restaurant experience (at the successful University of Winnipeg-adjacent, Banh Mi King), Do feels like she’s gotten the formula right for a possible franchise opportunity with Hawaii Kai, and is actively scouting locations.
She wouldn’t shy away from another downtown spot – this time, perhaps a storefront.
Having opened in the summer, she hasn’t even witnessed the mall come alive in the early evenings yet with everyone bedecked in blue-and-white.
“I’m very curious to see what will happen for Jets games,” says Do. “I know it’s very busy, and the Jets games are going to happen a lot in the winter.
“The business is very good downtown.”