Sherman's Food Adventures: Sam Choy's Poke to the Max

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max

We all know the poke craze that has hit Vancouver in the last few years, but other than a few outliers, most have been "salad-type" poke operations.  No, we haven't been blessed with many places that serve up authentic poke (which is basically fish, onion and soy-based dressing) without all the random ingredients.  However, in an about-face, we find the "Godfather" of poke, Sam Choy, amping up poke and other Hawaiian treats at Sam Choy's Poke to the Max in Seattle.  Seeing that piqued our interest and made it our first stop for food.

About that poke, we went for the Mo' Betta Shoyu featuring salmon, shoyu, sesame oil, unagi sauce and wasabi aioli.  This was accompanied by 2 scoops of rice, ginger, pickled veg and wakame salad.  It was pretty much straight up poke except for the 2 sauces.  Honestly, we could've done without them as they not only made the whole thing too heavy, it also muddled up the flavours.  We didn't even know what we were eating due to the strong unagi sauce.  Beyond that, the salmon was excellent as well as the condiments.  Following the same theme, the Reconstructed Musubi was a complete mess in our opinion.  Splatted obscenely by the same 2 sauces, it totally took away the enjoyment form the seared Spam, egg frittata and chewy sushi rice.  It was unnecessarily messy and once again muddled.

On the flip side, the Big Kahuna Kulua Sandwich was a hit.  The pork was plentiful and tender.  Unlike some other versions I've had in the past, the meat was moist and not overly fatty either.  In addition to the Hawaiian sweet bun, there was coleslaw, namasu, cilantro and aioli.  These added a bright crunch as well as sweetness and tang. On the side, the furikake fries were pretty damn tasty.  They were lightly crispy and somewhat greasy, but the taste of the nori added appealing umami.  Lastly, we had the Garlic Moco (instead of the Loco Moco) featuring garlic fried chicken, garlic sauce, grilled onions and a sunny side egg.  This was also tasty with impactfully flavoured crispy chicken.  That alone was worth the price of admission.  We were so-so with the mac salad as it the pasta was too soft.  At the end, we were torn as to whether we enjoyed our meal or not.  If I had to choose one or the other, it was more of a miss than hit for us.

The Good:
- Plenty creative
- Loved that fried chicken
- Kalua sammie and fries were on point

The Bad:
- Too many sauces on the poke and musubi
- Why can't they keep things more simple?


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