If you’re a sushi lover, looking to try something a little different Bowls & Bubbles wants you to #FreeTheSushi.

Opened at the end of July at 206 W. Broughton St., the restaurant specializes in Poke bowls, a Hawaiian staple dish, which is essentially deconstructed sushi in a bowl. From rice and salad greens to spicy salmon, marinated tofu and chicken and add-ins like mango, tomatoes, watermelon radish and boiled egg, owner Melissa Yao Hille said there’s something on the menu for everyone.

“I tell people, it’s like Asian Chipotle basically. So you go in and you get to pick and choose, you pick white rice, brown rice, or salad or half and half and you get to pick your protein,” said Yao Hille, who opened the restaurant with husband, Markus Hille.

There are 10 different sauces to choose from along with extra toppings like sesame seeds or even Cheetos dust.

“Flaming Cheetos dust is a really popular one if you like spicy,” Yao Hille said.

The restaurant also offers a wide selection of beverages by Kung Fu Tea. Yao Hille said when visiting other cities with Kung Fu Tea locations, her family would always stock up on bubble tea drinks, so they decided to purchase a franchise when opening up the restaurant.

“To me, they’re one of the best bubble teas that I’ve had, personally,” she said.

“And so the closest one to us is Jacksonville, or Atlanta, and my family and I used to drive to Jacksonville, or drive to Atlanta, literally just to get Kung Fu Tea, we’d do a little shopping, and then we’ll leave with like 10 cups of Kung Fu tea so we can have it for later.”

Originating in Taiwan in the 1980s, traditional Chinese bubble tea is a milk tea with black tapioca pearls that are called bubbles, the Kung Fu Tea menu includes traditional drinks as well as fruity flavors, smoothies, lemonades and more. You can also top your tea with the tapioca pearls or a variety of jellies and other toppings like coffee or mango popping bubbles.

“We have things that kind of appeal to different people, even if people have never had it,” Yao Hille said.

Aside from Bowls & Bubbles, Yao Hille works in the public relations industry, but running a restaurant is nothing new for her. Her family currently owns Sunrise Breakfast, which has three area locations.

“I still help with Sunrise, so this was a fun new concept that we’ve never done before, but like any restaurant, it’s managed pretty similarly, so it was it was easy for us to jump into it,” she said.

There were a few setbacks when it came to the timeline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. The restaurant was originally slated to open in April, but when things shut down March it also halted their construction.

“We didn’t get to pick back up construction really until May, when things were starting to open up a little bit,” she said, adding that from securing the lease to permitting and construction it has taken about a year to open the concept.

“It hasn’t been horrible, but I would have preferred to have been open in April. But you know what, it’s 2020, I’m just lucky we got open, right?”

Since opening in late July Yao Hille said the restaurant has already built up a loyal customer base. “We’ve been very fortunate we’ve had good business, we’ve got great customers come back time and time and again,” she said.

“People who come in for the tea end up trying a bowl at some point and then people come in for the bowl are like, ’I’ve never had bubble tea, what is it?’ So it’s been a lot of fun, really educating Savannah, about this bubble tea concept that has been such a rage in larger cities.”

Yao Hille said the education component is a large part of what they do, if you’re not sure how to build your bowl or create your bubble tea employees will help you with your creation and you can sample anything on the menu.

“My big thing is I don’t want people to be afraid to try it if they’ve never heard of it. Just come in we will help you and we will educate you.”

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