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Hawaii dreaming

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max

Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max’s tacos are filled to the max. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: With summer days waning, Dutch and Jackie were hankering for uber fresh fare and satiated their needs with a visit to Sam Choy's Poke to the Max. Once a food truck find only, this brick-and-mortar establishment located on Pacific Ave. near University of Washington-Tacoma, is an expansion of the brand with their sister store in Seattle.

JACKIE: Anteing up to the counter can feel intimidating at first. Sam Choy's has a plethora of poke options, served up via compelling and tasty vehicles from nachos, tacos, to traditional rice plates. Other options include sides like mac salad, Spam Musubi, edamame hummus and kimchi. Once you digest the menu, it's pretty easy to settle on what catches your fancy and order. I recommend taking your time to make up your mind before cruising up to the cashier. Beverages include a cooler full of canned coconut water, Hawaiian Suns, water and Red Bull with a few beer and sake options available as well.

DUTCH: Taking your time is great advice. I ordered the Aloha rice plate that keeps it simple with rice, salad and a protein, and it took me a few minutes to really put it all together to my liking. To accompany the rice, I went with the traditional mac salad, which consists of tender pasta, potatoes and a sweet mayonnaise dressing, and Kahlua pork. The pork was tender, juicy, with a little sweet and smoke. And for just $9.99, it was worth every penny.

JACKIE: Though I'm a lover of Spam, I opted for the poke rice bowl with their Sam's Spicy Ahi. The ahi is super fresh and complemented with the delicate heat of the spicy aioli. Two hearty scoops of white rice sprinkled with sesame seeds are joined by a mixed green salad. The salad is crisp and fresh with carrots, sweetly pickled cucumbers, seaweed and ginger adding bright pops of flavor throughout. Other poke options include classic shoyu with sesame oil and lomi lomi, chili mango giving salmon a heat with mangos, jalapenos and chili spices, and even a tofu poke with some teriyaki flair.

DUTCH: Satisfied with my first visit, I went back again anxious to try the Loco Moco, which is one of my favorite beach side dishes when I visit Hawaii. Once again, I was not disappointed. A moist burger patty is drenched in a rich, dark gravy and topped with a fried egg over-easy and served aside two scoops of sticky rice and mac salad. The whole plate is then topped with fresh green onions. If this had been served on a paper plate, I would have sworn I was on the island.

JACKIE: The tacos were dynamite as well. A hard shell is nestled into a soft shell, edamame hummus binding the two together. The combo is jam packed with ahi tuna, slaw, spicy aioli and cilantro. Grab a napkin and a fork, there's no diving into this delight lady-like.

DUTCH: Did you say tacos? I guess I know what I'm getting next time!

JACKIE: And I'm near giddy to go back and give their breakfast items a go.

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 1716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.4099,

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