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Order of the Day

Lili’s, Where Savory Southern and Korean Cuisines Meet

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Nathalie Walker
July 27, 2014

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After nearly two decades of visualizing and working hard to bring their labor of love to fruition, Filipo and Hyonsuk Maiava recently turned their dream of owning and operating a restaurant into reality, much to the delight of local diners.

The husband-and-wife duo opened Lili’s BBQ last December — appropriately named after Maiava’s mother — a move that was subsequently met with rave reviews from both new and loyal customers. Situated in Kalihi amid the bustling commercial and residential landscape, Lili’s BBQ serves up dine-in, takeout and catering selections incorporating both Korean and Southern-style barbecue influences.

“It was our dream. We’ve been thinking of opening our restaurant for 16 years now, and saving up,” says Filipo Maiava. “It’s very hard to open a business and timing is everything.”

Maiava explains that the unique combination of Korean and Southern cooking styles present at Lili’s stems from Hyonsuk’s extensive experience in preparing and cooking Korean cuisine, and his penchant for barbecue, which he developed while serving in the military on the Mainland.

“The customers’ response is so positive as far as the taste of our food; they always compliment us when they leave,” Filipo says. “We feel good knowing that we’re doing something right. That’s something we wanted: positive input from the customers.”

Smoked Brisket ($9.75) serves as one of the restaurant’s most popular selections and offers up tender, tasty meat that is smoked for eight to 10 hours — Filipo estimates that he serves upward of 300 pounds of smoked brisket every week. In addition to three slices of brisket, the plate also includes kimchee, rice, macaroni salad and homemade cornbread (baked fresh daily).

Pork Ribs ($9.75) is another popular Southern-style dish that is served with a special house sauce along with rice, kimchee, macaroni salad and cornbread. The ribs are smoked for six to seven hours, Filipo explains, to create the fall-off-the-bone texture and signature flavor. Country Chicken ($8) features a hearty portion of marinated and seasoned pan-fried chicken smothered in homemade white gravy, accompanied by rice, kimchee, macaroni salad and cornbread.

Those in the mood for local-style plates need look no farther than Lili’s Korean selections, which include the ever-popular Kalbi Ribs ($10.50). The succulent kalbi is served in a special, “very popular” house sauce, and accompanied by rice, kimchee and macaroni salad.

“The first time you try it, I guarantee you’re going to leave satisfied. You won’t regret it,” Filipo says. “Not only are the portions large, but the taste of the food is excellent.”

In addition to serving up tasty lunch and dinner options Monday through Saturday, Lili’s offers breakfast Monday mornings starting at 7:30. Fresh homemade biscuits headline the special Monday breakfast offerings, which make for the perfect start to the work week.

Lili’s BBQ

2300 N. King St.
842-9100
Monday, 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sunday