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Inside Feature

Fab Food, Fun at Big City

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Nathalie Walker
February 24, 2013

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When one desires a hearty meal prepared fresh and served in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere, look no further than Big City Diner.

The iconic eatery has satisfied Hawaii diners since 1998, and now features five convenient locations: Kailua, Kaimuki, Pearlridge, Waipio and Ward. With a wide variety of menu options and plentiful portions, Big City Diner is poised to please customers of all ages and tastes with its locally influenced comfort food.

“We try to base our menu on the idea of comfort food, and put an upscale twist on the items,” says Dennis Franks, senior executive chef at Big City Diner. “We cater to the local customers and their favorite flavors, as well as the visitors by giving them some Hawaiian flavors that they look forward to. One of our main intentions is to make sure that nobody leaves hungry.”

Franks explains that he incorporates a multitude of fresh, local products and ingredients in the dishes while still keeping menu prices as reasonable as possible.

Start the day off right, regardless of what time one chooses to do so, with Roasted Macadamia Nut Pancakes and Haupia Creme Sauce ($8.99 for the “Big Stack,” $7.99 for the “Not So Big Stack”). The large, old-fashioned pancakes are topped with roasted Mauna Loa macadamia nuts and covered with a sweet haupia creme sauce to tie all the flavors together.

“It’s been a few years since we introduced the pancakes, and it’s become one of our best-sellers,” Franks says. “It’s a great combination of flavors.”

Franks and his team are constantly updating the menu with new customer favorites, including Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad ($10.99). The vegetarian option includes large pieces of the sliced mushroom atop a bed of organic greens, chopped romaine lettuce, diced Roma tomatoes and sweet red onions.

The salad is then topped with big croutons, imported Parmesan cheese, red onion rings and fresh lemon along with a zesty ancho-chile dressing made fresh in-house.

Big City Diner features a host of large, flavorful burgers including the aptly named Big Burger ($14.99). The massive sandwich features a charbroiled beef patty topped with Cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, honey-cured bacon and California avocado. All burgers at the eatery come with 100 percent lean ground steak patties, lettuce, tomato, onion, a dill pickle spear and mayo on a fresh potato bun. While all burgers are served with a hearty portion of skin-on fries, customers may choose to upgrade to zesty garlic fries for just 99 cents more, or add a small green salad for an additional $1.99.

Diners also rave about Baby Back Ribs with Famous Guava-BBQ Sauce ($22.99 “Big Slab,” $18.99 “Not So Big Slab”). The ribs, which resemble one of Fred Flint-stone’s favorite entrees, are slow-roasted for five hours until the meat falls off the bone, and slathered with a sweet and tangy guava mango barbecue sauce. The entree is served with a choice of steamed white or brown rice, and diners may sub for garlic “smashed” potatoes for $1.99, or add a cup of Daily Super Soup or a small green salad for an additional $1.99.

“The ribs are made so they’re served tender, and include that unique local flavor from the barbecue sauce that we make in-house,” says Franks, who also recommends customers upgrade their starch choice to Big City Diner’s famous fried rice or kimchee fried rice.

And, to wrap up a satisfying meal, look no further than Big Brownie Pie ($7.49). The delectable dessert includes a mountain of Bubbies Vanilla Bean Ice Cream atop a big brownie, which is smothered in chocolate, whipped cream and macadamia nuts.

“We want people to be comfortable and enjoy themselves,” Franks says. “If they’re coming in to grab a bite before shopping or watching a movie, they can enjoy a quick full-service meal. Or, families can come in and enjoy the gathering with music in the background and sports on the televisions, if they’d like. Our employees really care about what they do, and that passion creates an enjoyable experience for our guests.”

Big City Diner also offers full-service catering, and is poised to assist customers with all sorts of events and occasions via set and customizable menus. The service is available islandwide, and to inquire about the options available, log on to www.BigCityDinerHawaii.com/ Catering or call 487-8588.

Big City Diner

Pearlridge East
98-211 Pali Momi St., Ste. 900, Aiea (and four other locations islandwide)
487-8588
Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight
BigCityDinerHawaii.com