Healthy, Hearty Options Beckon at Big City DinerFeatures Inside Feature
November 24, 2013
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Leah Friel
For more than 15 years, Big City Diner has served as Hawaii’s home for hearty meals prepared fresh and served in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
And, since day one, the restaurant has also made it a priority to offer healthy options among its extensive menu. The iconic eatery has satisfied multiple generations of Hawaii diners since 1998, and features five convenient locations: Kailua, Kaimuki, Pearlridge, Waipio and Ward. With a wide variety of menu options and plentiful portions, Big City Diner presents locally influenced comfort food crafted to please patrons of all ages with an upscale twist — but without the upscale prices.
Owner Lane Muraoka explains that Big City Diner’s menu incorporates a multitude of fresh, local products and ingredients — including island-grown produce and Ka Lei Eggs — while prices remain reasonable.
“When we first opened the restaurant, we always included a healthy aspect to the menu,” Muraoka says. “Of course, our burgers and regular loco moco are very popular, but we have always offered healthier options because that’s how I was raised — watching cholesterol levels while staying away from saturatedand trans-fats. When we opened the restaurant, we always wanted to have an availability of healthy options for multiple generations of families.”
Start the day off right with The Ultimate Tofu-Veggie Omelette ($12.99) — a flavor-packed egg white omelette surrounding tofu, fresh mushrooms, local tomatoes, fresh spinach, broccoli florettes and sweet onions. The dish is smothered with Wisconsin Jack and cheddar cheeses along with brown rice, whole wheat toast and honey, 100 percent orange juice, whole bean coffee or green tea.
Many patrons are familiar with the restaurant’s iconic Really Loco, Loco Moco ($9.99) — a dish that normally includes hot rice topped with a hamburger patty and a farm fresh Ka Lei egg, all smothered in brown gravy and caramelized onions. For just $1.99 more, diners may enjoy the loco moco with a huge garden steak burger, brown rice and a poached egg — a healthy take on the classic local-style meal.
Muraoka and his culinary team are constantly updating the menu with customer favorites, including Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad ($10.99). The vegetarian option includes large pieces of sliced mushrooms 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.
Mamasan’s Vegetable Stir-Fry ($8.99, add $2.99 for choice steak, tofu or chicken breast) is another heart-healthy option featuring a medley of fresh garden veggies stir-fried in Big City Diner’s secret sauce along with plenty of ginger and garlic. Diners may also reel in fresh and healthy fish with Pacific Islander Fresh Catch (market price), as the day’s fresh selection delivered straight from the fish auction is pan-seared or flame-broiled and glazed with the restaurant’s Japanese red ginger-lime chili butter sauce and topped with a fresh lemon wedge along with one’s choice of tartar sauce, wasabi aioli or homemade fresh salsa.
Big City Diner recently revamped its late-night Happy Hour, which is available from 9 p.m. to closing Sunday through Thursday, and 10 p.m. to closing Friday and Saturday. Diners may enjoy 50 percent off pupus with a two-beverage minimum per table in addition to $3 Heineken and Heineken Light bottles and $5 Pinnacle Vodka “Whip Its” (regularly priced at $8), including Orange Creamsicle and Black Cherry flavors. The restaurants also offer an afternoon Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., which includes 50 percent off pupus with a two-beverage minimum per table in addition to 50 cents off pints of beer and $1 off 25-ounce draft beers.
Those who want to avoid the stress and mess associated with cooking on Thanksgiving will be pleased to hear about Big City Diner’s specials available Thursday, Nov. 28, during which all locations are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The special holiday menu features Classic Eggs Benedict ($11.99, available from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.), which includes real Canadian bacon on toasted English muffins with island fresh Ka Lei poached eggs topped with Chef’s Hollandaise Sauce alongside a choice of golden hash browns or Paniolo potatoes and an array of fresh island fruits. Oven Roasted Turkey Special ($14.99 lunch, $15.99 dinner, $7.99 keiki served from 11 a.m.) highlights fresh roasted turkey with Portuguese sausage stuffing, Chef’s homemade giblet gravy smothered atop famous garlic smashed potatoes along with cranberry Maui pineapple relish and baked cane sugar cinnamon sweet potatoes. It’s topped off with Grandma’s Mauna Loa macadamia nut pumpkin crunch with real whipped cream.
Big City Diner also offers full-service catering, and is poised to assist customers with fundraising events and private parties via set and customizable menus. To inquire about the options available, including gift cards for the holidays, customers may log on to www.BigCityDinerHawaii.com or call 487-8588.
Big City Diner
98-211 Pali Momi St. Ste. 900, Aiea
(and four other locations islandwide)
Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-midnight