by Robin Boland
When the ever persuasive Emerald editor requested that I review the newest addition to the Columbia/Hillman City smorgasbord, Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max, I was already in the process of Facebook stalking them for their opening hours. I persuaded some of my book club comrades to join me in the interest of trying out lots of dishes without becoming morbidly obese.
So here’s the deal; Poke, as explained by the writing on the wall (literally) is a traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad found in both highbrow, fancy restaurants as well as on street vendor’s menus across Hawaii. My neighbor Victoria ordered the traditional poke (w/spicy aioli, avocado, mixed white/brown rice & tuna) and relayed that it was “Beautiful, wonderful, everything I wanted it to be”. She was also excited to bring her raw fish phobic husband to Poke to the Max because there are so many menu options beyond poke.
Rice bowls are one of these options (in addition to sandwiches, wraps and salads) and that’s what I went for. The generously sized rice bowl comes with a choice of green or mac salad and white or brown rice. The green salad was described as “legit” by Beth (i.e. “not just a couple pieces of iceberg lettuce”) while Andrew, a self proclaimed mac salad connoisseur and book club spouse, gave the mac salad a thumbs up. The rice bowls are available with chicken, shrimp and beef as well as other options. The chicken rice bowl, which I ordered for my teenage son (now known as “T-Rex” due to his ability to decimate large meals in minutes) can be prepared in 4 different ways, two of which are fried and two of which are grilled. I procured the garlic chicken rice bowl (fried) for him and ordered the teriyaki beef short ribs rice bowl for myself. Seriously happy times. It was all delicious, he was full and I wasn’t broke (the chicken and beef rice bowls are both $9.99), a true rarity.
So if you have a penny pinching, raw fish phobic spouse or a hungry teenager you’re in luck! Really we’re all in luck, this is the spot our neighborhood was missing without even knowing it.
Robin Boland is a Hillman City resident.
Photos courtesy of Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max