When it comes to island cuisine, Sam Choy is about as famous it gets. On Saturday, Tacomans can sample Choys food when his Seattle-based food truck, Sam Choys Poke To The Max, serves at an event at Trident Athletics (more information on that below).
On Saturdays menu are Hawaiian favorites, but the truck is known for Choys specialty poke. Cant make it the event Saturday, but still want poke? Ive got a guide below to three poke dishes I like in Tacoma. But first, a little more about the Poke to the Max truck.
Choy is the Hawaii-based chef, restaurant owner and James Beard award-winning cookbook author who has appeared on several cooking shows. His truck is a collaboration with Seattle chef Max Heigh, who comes from a restaurant family in Seattle. (Tip: Mother and son currently are working on a Columbia City restaurant called Stone House Cafe).
Heighs partnership with Choy debuted as a food truck in August. Heigh added a second truck a few months ago. The roving truck offers a menu of Hawaiian favorites, such as a loco moco plate and kalua pork, but specializes in the dish that made Choy famous poke.
For neophytes, poke is a raw fish dish splashed with shoyu thats essentially a sashimi salad, usually made with raw tuna or salmon, and served on the Poke to the Max truck with fresh seaweed (something I love to see). The truck also makes a tofu version. The dish is pronounced like okay, with a p out front.
So how exactly did Heigh connect with one of the most famous names in island cuisine? Heigh had this to say by phone, Thats a question people do ask often. Hes actually a family friend of mine. We got talking maybe about two years ago. He kept coming back and forth through Seattle hes always loved the Pacific Northwest. Heigh said he soaks up island cooking lessons when Choy visits about every six weeks or so.
Some of the kitchen tricks hes learned from Choy notch up the flavor in the island cuisine, such as layering the brown gravy on the loco moco plate (thats a hamburger patty topped with gravy and an egg) with beef and pork fat to give it a bit of a flavor bump. Heighs cuisine, like the food of Hawaii, is a blend of at least a half dozen styles of Asian cooking. For instance, the trucks shrimp sandwich looks like a Vietnamese banh mi because its modeled after one. The truck also is known for producing specials. This weekend, they might be offering their island-themed chili made with pork belly and Portuguese sausage.
Find the truck parked outside Trident Athletics from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday 5206 South Tacoma Way.