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Score With Mac And Cheese

Ono, You Know

August 26, 2018

Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Big City Diner’s Mac & Cheese Burger ($15.99) gets editor Ellise Kakazu in the mood for some football.

As a University of Hawaii at Manoa alumna, I cannot help but get excited to cheer on Hawaii Rainbow Warriors this season.

With many action-packed games lined up, I also am looking forward to the game day treats I will be indulging in. While finger foods like pizza, chips and dip, and hot wings always are solid options, I plan to add another American classic to the mix — macaroni and cheese!

The classic pairing of elbow pasta and cheese often is thought of as a very simple and predictable dish, but I heard there are a few restaurants around town that are challenging that call by serving up scrumptious out-of-the-box renditions. And I am determined to find them.

So let’s lace up our shoes because it’s time to hit the ground running and kick off this cheesy undertaking!

GO ‘BIG’ OR GO HOME

Known for its local American comfort food and sports friendly environment, Big City Diner is the perfect place to enjoy a game day meal.

A closer look at Big City Diner’s Mac & Cheese Burger

“We just want people to feel comfortable,” says owner Lane Muraoka. “(Big City Diner is) like a meeting place where people can come in and hang out.”

Muraoka explains he opened Big City Diner’s first location in 1998 with the goal of providing “something for everyone,” which translated into “local American comfort food.” And with the diner’s extensive, diverse menu, it seems he hit his target.

Some items Big City offers are Mama-san’s Monster Meatloaf, The Really Loco, Loco Moco, The Upcountry Veggie Club, “Double-Down” Chili Dogs and, just what we are looking for, Mac & Cheese Burger ($15.99).

Mac & Cheese Burger is a glorious burger that features a juicy beef patty topped with a heaping mound of white cheddar macaroni and cheese, two thick pieces of bacon, lettuce, slices of tomato and red onions, all placed on a fresh, locally baked potato bun. Rounding up the hearty meal is skin-on french fries and a dill pickle spear.

“It’s a good sized burger,” adds Muraoka. “Nothing is more all-American than that.”

Biting into the decadent burger, one also can catch the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in action. According to Muraoka, Big City Diner always shows local sports on its TVs, as he feels “it brings people together.”

“People always want to see Hawaii people do well,” says Muraoka.

Helping others do well is another mission Big City Diner tackles. Muraoka explains Big City has been supporting Make-A-Wish Hawaii for years. In fact, throughout the rest of the month, diners can purchase a Make-A-Wish Hawaii star or place a donation in a designated can found throughout the restaurant’s dining space — all proceeds will go to the nonprofit.

Big City Diner has a total of six locations on Oahu, meaning almost everyone on the island can cheer for their favorite team while enjoying ono food.

GAME CHANGER

As a key culinary player in the Kaimuki community, The Surfing Pig often comes up with creative plays on how to serve up classic dishes with a twist.

The Surfing Pig’s Smokey Cheesy Mac with Porchetta ($12)

“The Surfing Pig is always curating new dishes, menus and unique ways to experience dining in the restaurant,” says Anna Piergallini, director of sales and marketing.

A few star dishes on Surfing Pig’s lineup are Chicken and Waffle Deluxe (available during brunch), Surfing Pig Truffle Fries, Stuffed French Toast and Smokey Cheesy Mac with Porchetta ($12).

While everything on the menu is pure perfection, Surfing Pig’s Smokey Cheesy Mac with Porchetta, an elevated version of the classic duo, earns a standing ovation. The rich, delicious “Small Plate” (Surfing Pig’s version of an appetizer) comes with ziti pasta coated in a luscious homemade Gouda cheese sauce that is topped with crispy porchetta.

“Our goal was to create a modern version of the comfort food classic with an adult twist,” says Piergallini. “Mac and Cheese is such a nostalgic dish, we had to take our spin of it … pork style.”

If you happen to crave this game-changing macaroni and cheese rendition before or after a game, or are in need of a workweek pick me up, sprint into The Surfing Pig during happy hour (4-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday). Smokey Cheesy Mac with Porchetta is available for just $10 during this time.

It looks like the Ono clock is ticking down, but I hope this venture inspired you to get in the zone and come up with a golden game day meal plan — let’s go Warriors!

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