Legendary Hawaiian chef Sam Choy brings ‘true’ island food to the Peninsula with Poke to the Max
The Godfather of poke sets up shop in San Bruno
Hawaiian celebrity chef Sam Choy’s poke has arrived in the Bay Area.
Choy opened the first California outpost of Poke to the Max this weekend in San Bruno. He calls the restaurant, which first opened in Seattle, Washington, a “true taste of Hawaii.” The menu skews traditional with poke rice plates, loco moco and musubi — none of the create-your-own poke bowls that have proliferated the mainland.
“Our mission has always been to bring poke to the people and that’s what we will continue to do,” Choy said in a press release.
Here are five things you should know about the new Poke to the Max, located at 629 San Mateo Ave.
- The restaurant is built on culinary chops. Choy is described as a founding contributor of “Pacific Rim Cuisine” and the “Godfather of poke.” Hailing from Laie, Oahu, he started his career as executive chef at what is now the Turtle Bay Hotel on Oahu’s North Shore and went on to open a James Beard award-winning restaurant in Kona, write several cookbooks (including not one, but three strictly about poke), host his own TV show and serve as consulting chef for American Airlines.
2. The origin story: It all started with a food truck. Choy first launched a poke truck in Washington in 2013 before opening two brick and mortar restaurants in Seattle and Tacoma.
3. The poke low-down: always served fresh with rice, mixed greens, namasu, ginger and seaweed salad. There are eight varieties, including the “mo’ betta shoyu” with ahi tuna or salmon poke, shoyu, sesame oil, unagi sauce and wasabi aioli and the “Da Cali” with ahi tuna, surimi, avocado and aioli. For vegetarians, there’s a tofu poke with shoyu and sesame oil.
4. If raw fish isn’t your jam, don’t despair. Poke to the Max has a varied menu, with four different kinds of loco moco, six flavors of musubi, traditional lunch plates, salads and sandwiches. Plus, Spam fries.
5. Don’t live near San Bruno? Poke to the Max plans to work with Off the Grid to include its fleet of food trucks at local OTG markets. Specific locations, TBD.
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