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Short-rib Surprise

Ono, You Know

March 4, 2018

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

The editor pops open her plate lunch, revealing the ever-flavorful Pulehu Beef Short Ribs from Kau Kau Grill.

Without a doubt, one of Hawaii’s favorite cuts of meat is the short rib, and the mere mention of this succulent beef slab immediately sends images of freshly grilled kalbi to our minds and appetites — charred bits, caramelized edges, juicy drippings and all — which are made from thinly sliced flanken cuts of the rib.

In addition to picking off every last morsel of meat around the bones in the Korean preparation, there are many carnivorous ways to tear into short ribs within the local culinary scene. Since the popular cut is nice and fatty, short ribs transform into a world of flavor during the cooking process. That marbling also makes them ideal for braising, rendering the most tender, fall-off-the-bone meat you can imagine.

So now that your mouths are just about watering, let’s get right to it with the following bites — all of which are savory, crave-able, and will definitely stick to the ribs.

KAU KAU GRILL

One taste of Pulehu Beef Short Ribs is all it takes to feel as though you’ve been transported to an island-style barbecue on the beach, with smoke rising from the grill and the unparalleled flavor of freshly grilled meat awaiting you.

Kau Kau’s Pulehu Beef Short Ribs ($12 regular size)

In reality, you can take this Kau Kau Grill dish to go on the way to your next beach outing, or simply stop in to enjoy it on your lunch break during the week. It’s made flavorful with the Mapunapuna eatery’s house seasoning salt, which lingers on taste buds with hints of garlic, salt and pepper, among other wonderful flavors, including a nice char from the in-house grill.

Manager Ryan Souza explains that the short ribs are more akin to a piece of steak than the thin slices of meat you typically see in plate lunch presentations. “We recently upgraded to a little thicker cut, so it gives it a more steak type of feel in the dish.”

The regular size of this lunchtime masterpiece is priced at $12 and comes with two scoops of rice and spaghetti mac salad. There’s also a mini plate available for $9. All in all, these pulehu-style short ribs offer a sizzling and savory alternative to the sweet marinade of kalbi offered on most menus.

Kau Kau specializes in bringing this and other local favorites to life. The hole in the wall is known for its best-selling Barbecue Baby Back Ribs, as well as other comfort foods like Garlic Shrimp, Smoked Meat, Poke Bowls and more. And for a unique treat, don’t forget to upgrade to the spicy barbecue Krazy Rice ($3 on the side, $1 substitute per scoop). Stop by the eatery for lunch Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

KAHAI STREET KITCHEN

It’s not uncommon to see braised, boneless short ribs on fine-dining menus, but keep in mind that you don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy this type of beef. Just head to Kahai Street Kitchen, where the best in gourmet island cuisine is presented to patrons in a casual, plate-lunch setting, with great prices to boot.

Kahai’s Beef Wellington ($14.95) ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS

Head chef and co-owner David Yamamoto is well versed in cooking up high-quality fare, considering that Kahai Street Kitchen started out as a catering business in Kalihi in 2006. After numerous requests to start offering lunch service from the construction workers and passersby in the area who would smell irresistible aromas coming from the catering kitchen, Yamamoto and co-owner Nao Iwata began translating their upscale catering fare into delicious, affordable plate lunches — which continue to be a hit.

Kahai Street Kitchen’s Braised Boneless Short Ribs ($14.95)

Now located in Moiliili, Kahai Street Kitchen dishes out many mouthwatering versions of slow-cooked beef, including its signature Braised Boneless Short Ribs ($14.95). The dish is made osso buco-style, featuring fork-tender meat that’s cooked to perfection over three to four hours and swims in a demi-glace speckled with carrots, onion and celery.

Yamamoto says he loves cooking with short ribs because they take on an aromatic quality that can’t be beat when they’re braised with vegetables. That’s why he turns to this cut of meat for Beef Wellington ($14.95), Kahai’s version of the classic dish. It brings braised beef together with caramelized onions, sauteed spinach and duxelles, a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, all tucked into a crispy puff pastry. The Wellington is a newer dish that the eatery decided to keep on the menu after patrons fell in love with it during Valentine’s Day.

And if you’re still hungry, check out Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs, Braised Boneless Short Rib Loco Moco, or the Braised Short Rib Shepherd’s Pie special.

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