About a month ago, Sam Choy's Poke to the Max (adjacent to WowWow Lemonade) opened at Marina Plaza. I finally had the chance to stroll in with my teenage girls on a warm sunny evening. It has a totally casual Hawaiian vibe- doors flung open to an outdoor patio area and a comfortable minimalist set-up inside. Locals with flip flops and tee shirts abound. For me, something was intuitively strange about walking into a poke restaurant that was about 80 degrees inside. But I'm sure their refrigerators work great!
<-pretty! <--getting saucy
The format is completely different from the build-your- own process you may be accustomed to at Just Poke up the street. Step 1 at Sam Choy's is choosing your dish: rice plate, salad, wrap or tacos. Then you select your poke from their list of 6 or so options. I went for the customer favorite of 'Mo'Betta Shoyu' (photo, on a salad) which is ahi tuna or salmon, shoyu, sesame oil, unago sauce and wasabi aioli. I don't know what shoyu or unago sauce are, so I was rolling the dice and trusting the public's fave. My daughter also selected a salmon dish w/rice. Both of us with the salmon felt like the fresh light nature of the poke got smothered in sauce, turning a summer meal into a gooey rich encounter. We couldn't come near finishing our plates we were so full. But it didn't matter because sitting on the patio there was a great perch for Kirkland prime-time people watching and summer rays.
Sam Choy also has handcrafted sandwiches and some island favorite plates such as garlic fried chicken that was pretty darn yummy (photo, $11.99), firecracker shrimp, short ribs or a beef patty. My 16 year old daughter that still eats like a 4 year old went for the least risky beige foods- garlic fried chicken with rice and macaroni salad. She was happy with that. Friends that went recently said they LOVED the fried chicken sandwich which came with light slaw and cilantro and a side of hand-cut fries (but had the same poke feedback w/the tuna)
The service was great. Helpful local teens can talk you through the menu and the food comes out pretty quickly and all on compostable materials which makes me happy. Bonus- the Kirkland location serves to Halal standards too. And there's a food truck and catering available.
Hours are Monday 11-3, Tues- Sat 11-9 and Sun 11-7.