CUISINE ON A SHOESTRING
Two delicious local spots won't empty a wallet
This month's Cuisine on a Shoestring looks at a familiar name for casual cross-cultural comfort food, along with a standout Korean place that grills everything with deliciously smoky kiawe wood.
By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic
Bob's Big Boy
2828 Pa'a St.
5 a.m.-midnight Sundays-Thursdays; until 1 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays
Call ahead, 833-3402, for drive-through pickups
|The Big Boy statue is a familiar sight at Bob's Big Boy, a restaurant that has served up a tasty assortment of local, Mainland and ethnic meals in Mapunapuna since 1975.
Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser
Occasionally, when my appetite is more ferocious, I will order the Blockbuster ($7.25) and get bacon, sausage and eggs, along with hash browns or rice to add to my pancake fix. It busts my block, to be sure. Game, set and match.
Bob's Big Boy began via the efforts of a gentleman named Bob Wian in Glendale, Calif., circa 1936. Wian sold his car for $350 (a pretty penny in those days) and opened a small 10-seat diner called Bob's Pantry. His policy was a familiar one: Serve the finest-quality food and give the best service possible. The restaurant was honored in 1993 by being designated a "State Point of Historical Interest."
Wian is credited with the creation of the double-decker hamburger. This is how the story goes: One day, a chubby youngster walked into Wian's now-flourishing restaurant. "He was about six," Wian recalled, "and rolls of fat protruded where his shirt and pants were designed to meet. I was so amused by the youngster jolly, healthy-looking and obviously a lover of good things to eat, I called him Big Boy." Wian decided to name his new creation Big Boy, giving birth to the first official double-deck hamburger.
The Mapunapuna unit is a locally owned franchise that opened June 9, 1975. They serve a blend of many Mainland, local and ethnic favorites, including full breakfasts, sandwiches, entrees and very good desserts (think pie, baby!).
A large variety of items include the original double-decker hamburger ($4.50; $5.50 with fries), homemade chicken-fried steak ($7.75, one of my childhood favorites, smothered in thick, creamy country gravy), a local innovation called the Sumo Boy ($7.95), a whopping one-pound burger, won ton min ($5.75), homemade meatloaf ($8.50), pot roast ($8.95), fried chicken ($8.95), shrimp scampi with linguine ($9.95), chicken enchiladas ($8.25) and literally hundreds of other choices. Bob's truly has something for everyone.
Now you can call in your order at 833-3402 and pick it up at the drive-through window without even having to get out of your car. There is even a bakery inside, where house-made pies such as sweet-potato haupia, key lime, cheesecake and banana cream, to name a few, are available whole and by the slice.
Pancakes would be good right about now; anyone need a lift to the airport?
Korean BBQ & Burgers
2334 S. King St.
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; until 8 p.m. Sundays
This is a new favorite for me. A great feature here is that all the side salads and vegetables are self-serve. You are given a container and can choose among kim chee, long rice, watercress, shoyu potato, macaroni salad, seaweed, bean sprouts, cabbage and whatever else might be there.
Kiawe is the Hawaiian name for a tree that grows in many parts of the world. In Texas, it's called mesquite and is known for dense wood that is often used in making barbeque fires. Kiawe makes an excellent fuel, as it burns quite hot and evenly. More importantly, it's a great choice for barbequing meats and seafood because of its distinctive and delicious flavor.
The BBQ special ($7.75) includes kalbi, beef and chicken. It'll give you a chance to sample three of the house specialties. I also have enjoyed the BBQ pork ($6.45), lamb chop ($6.95), and pork chop ($6.95). Salmon ($6.95) and shrimp ($7.25) are grilled just right, the wood-smoke flavor taking all of these grilled items to the next level.
Although you can order items such as fried mandoo, meat jun, chicken and pork katsu, and bi bim bap ($5.95 each), I urge you to try something grilled. The burgers are popular here; a six-ounce one will set you back just $3.95; same price for the teri burger. The salmon burger is just $3.75, and the thick steak-cut fries are $1.95.
Reach Matthew Gray at email@example.com.