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Ali Carte
Ali Carte

Busting Out the Barbecued Goods

By Ali Resich Photos By Nathalie Walker
February 23, 2014

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When it comes to the flavorful, saucy realm of barbecued fare, styles vary across the board. Journey to North Carolina and you’ll taste mouthwatering pulled pork enlivened with vinegar-based barbecue sauce. Meanwhile, a visit to Tennessee will prompt a slathering of sweet sauce spiked with a splash of whiskey over your ribs. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to sample sumptuous barbecue flavors right here at home, as Kau Kau Grill is making waves in the food world with its signature Barbecue Baby Back Ribs ($12).

“It’s hard to compare ribs because everybody has their own style, but the style we have is just something that me and my partners like, and everyone else has liked it too,” says Miles Oyasato, who co-owns the food truck with business partners Ty Takishita and Nolen Tosaka.

As barbecue enthusiasts will tell you, one of the keys to success is having a homemade recipe all your own — one which you don’t share, of course. Oyasato has worked to perfect Kau Kau’s incredibly rich barbecue sauce for years, and the result is a heavenly, balanced trio of tangy, sweet and savory flavors.

Barbecue Baby Back Ribs presents soft, juicy pieces of meat that are thoughtfully prepped before they are finished off on the grill with a nice char.

“We make it tender enough so it comes off (the bone) easily but not too tender, to where the meat just falls apart before you get a chance to eat it,” explains Oyasato. Like all of the truck’s plates, the ribs come with a choice of white or brown rice, as well as salad or potato mac salad made with spaghetti noodles. By the end of your meal, you’ll be licking the caramelized pieces of barbecue sauce right off your fingertips.

Kau Kau Grill, which opened in April 2013, also has gained quite the reputation for its fresh seafood, such as the auction-fresh, 2-plus grade ahi that’s used to make “Ono” Poke Bowl ($8) and Poke Plates ($10; served with salad). Enjoy the poke with a shoyu sauce prepared with sesame oil, or a spicy sauce that doesn’t overpower the prime fish. “It has that heat in there, but it won’t burn your mouth,” adds Oyasato.

Brightly seasoned Garlic Shrimp ($12) has proven to be one of the truck’s most popular items as well, heating up the menu with plump pieces of shrimp that are pan fried in olive oil and a gorgeous garlic mixture.

From its one-of-a-kind barbecue ribs, to local favorites at their best, Kau Kau Grill is always very kind to your taste buds. Aside from the food truck’s usual parking spot on Kapiolani Boulevard, you can look for it at Eat the Street and other Street Grindz events.

Kau Kau Grill

1637 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
284-8293
Monday–Friday, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sundays