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Neighborhood diner provides two decades of beloved recipes

A La Carte

April 22, 2018

Story By: Yu Shing Ting | Photos by: L. TABUDLO

Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Fresh Mint & Cilantro ($13.99)

Big City Diner, which celebrates 20 years this fall, is known for its ono local American comfort food featuring fresh ingredients, original recipes, homemade sauces and dressings, and service with aloha.

Among the favorites on the menu are Ani’s Cinnamon Bread French Toast Sandwich, Mac & Cheese Burger, and Baby Back Ribs with Our Famous Guava-BBQ sauce, slow-roasted for five hours until the meat falls off the bone. The restaurant also recently started bottling its Guava-BBQ sauce, which is available at all six locations (Kaimuki, Ward Entertainment Center, Waipio Shopping Center, Pearlridge East, Kailua Town Center and Windward Mall).

The neighborhood diner also offers a great selection of healthy options, such as its popular Paniolo Chicken Salad, which has been on the menu since the beginning.

Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad ($12.99) FILE PHOTO

Or try the Fire-Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad ($12.99), consisting of a whole fresh Portobello mushroom, marinated and grilled over open flame, then sliced on a bed of organic mesclun and romaine, and topped with homemade roasted croutons, imported Parmesan cheese, diced local Roma tomatoes and sweet red onions, all served with a homemade ancho-chile dressing.

“It all complements each other very well,” notes owner/president Lane Muraoka. “We’ve had it for awhile, but a lot of our clientele, they like to order the same thing every time they come so they don’t even open the menu.

“We have a lot of healthy choices, and that’s how we can accommodate different generations. We might have elementary school-age kids, their parents and grandparents — multiple generations — sitting at one table for dinner.”

The Ultimate Tofu-Veggie Omelet ($14.49)

Another healthy choice is The Ultimate Tofu-Veggie Omelet ($14.49) made with local tofu and assorted vegetables, such as broccoli florettes, tomato, sweet onion, fresh mushrooms, local tomatoes and spinach — all smothered with real Jack and cheddar cheeses, and sauteed into an egg white omelet. It also comes with whole wheat toast, brown rice, and your choice of Royal Kona coffee or orange juice.

There also is the Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Fresh Mint & Cilantro ($13.99), a weekday special this week (April 23-27), consisting of fresh lettuce, sweet onion, locally grown bean sprouts, carrots, fresh cilantro and mint, lemon, topped with a homemade spicy peanut sauce and served with your choice of a cup of soup or small green salad.

For its efforts, Big City Diner’s Kailua and Windward Mall restaurants have been approved by Blue Zones Project, a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier in Hawaii. However, its healthier menu options are available at all locations.

It’s also Administrative Professionals Day on April 25, and Big City Diner wants to help you recognize your secretary or administrative assistant. Bring them in April 23-27 and they will get a free small Oreo Sundae with purchase of an entree and beverage.

“We are a casual, neighborhood-feel, come as you are restaurant,” says Muraoka. “We have people who come straight from the beach with sand in their toes sitting next to people in their ties having a business meeting, sitting next to high school kids, sitting next to families with kids — it’s very diverse. We also see a lot of University of Hawaii coaches and athletes, and we have a lot of regular customers. We see people sometimes on a daily basis; they’ve become part of the ohana.”

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