San Francisco's cool bayside breezes may be far from the sunny shores of "the big island," but that doesn't stop lines from forming outside Sammy's Aloha (no website). Occupying a curbside corner of the takeout window at Butterfly on Pier 33, this casual Hawaiian-style pop-up that took the place of Pan Grill serves a unique take on the usual suspects, like kalua pork and loco moco.
t's no surprise the venue's namesake, Sammy Kong Kee, holds contest-winning titles for his poke recipes. The Ahi Poke Rice Bowl ($9) is a favorite, served with either Thai black sticky rice or Yomegokochi white rice. Similar to a chopped salad, the addition of avocado, radish and cucumber to the poke bowl bring a freshness to complement both the ahi and the briny flavors of a salmon roe garnish. Plus wasabi coulis adds a dash of heat. Top it with a poached egg, a rich addition to an otherwise light tuna dish.
The Ono BBQ Chicken sandwich ($8) is a solid lunchtime option if you'd like to err on the side of turf over surf. This sandwich features house-baked milk buns stacked with a sweet Hawaiian-style chicken BBQ and fixings familiar to a banh mi, including pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and (the near cult-favorite status) Kewpie mayo. One fixing that might be unfamiliar - sweet shishito peppers.
Looking for something more on-the-go? Sammy's Aloha also offers "Bao" stuffed buns ($4) with a choice from: mushroom (with bacon, brie, and white truffle), kalua pig (with spicy gochujang), and one sweet option of haupia and banana. The kalua pig bao airy, sweet milk bun is dense with pulled pork stuffing and dripping with a mildly spiced red sauce.
And don't forget a side of Spammy Fries ($4)! Squares of sushi rice are fried and crisped, then topped with shavings of -- you guessed it -- Hormel's finest: Spam. Salmon roe, and sweet and spicy sauces complete the dish.
Sammy's Aloha, located at: Pier 33 (Butterfly take out window), open: Tuesday - Sunday 11a.m. - 3p.m.