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The Secret’s Out

Cover Story

April 14, 2019

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Fresh Garlic Ahi ($12)

When a restaurant is open for four and a half hours a day, seats just a dozen people or so, and still draws such a crowd that there always seems to be a queue, it must have a secret.

At Kau Kau Grill on Mapunapuna Street in Honolulu, the secret is incredibly tasty food, served with enthusiastic attitudes by a team of friendly local folk who know how to make an irresistible and unforgettable meal.

“I really like watching people sit down and enjoy eating our food, and seeing them leave with smiles on their faces,” says owner Miles Oyasato.

K Special ($19)

And it’s impossible not to smile with pleasure at the first broke-da-mout’ taste of Kau Kau Grill’s Surf & Turf Combo ($17) with Pulehu short ribs and garlic shrimp, especially when you ask for Krazy rice (add $1).

The K Special, with tender, smoky-sweet baby back ribs, spicy ahi poke, and that legendary Krazy rice, is another satisfying and utterly ono plate. “I’m hooked on their Krazy rice!” is a refrain that’s often overheard here. The restaurant’s spicy barbecue fried rice has a kick that keeps customers coming back for more.

The Fried Saimin Combo with Smoked Meat ($13) is a spectacular crowd-pleaser, comprising savory little morsels of meat and plenty of smoky fried onions, and it’s beautifully complemented by a scoop of Krazy rice. And for lighter appetites, the Fresh Garlic Ahi ($12) includes three delectable little steaks, blanketed in sauteed garlic. All plates are served with white rice (add a scoop of Krazy rice for $1, or order a la carte for $3 more) and your choice of green or spaghetti mac salad.

Smoked Meat ($12) with Krazy Rice substitute (add $1)

“We enjoy building relationships with our loyal customers who always come in and provide us with business,” Oyasato says. Often, he encounters customers outside the restaurant, and he makes it a point to ask about their experiences at Kau Kau Grill. “Their responses are always good and very meaningful to hear,” he says.

Weekly specials are announced on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and include favorites like roast pork with gravy, crispy baked panko chicken, hamburger steak with onion and gravy, chicken with mushrooms and gravy, and lechon kawali.

“Follow us @kaukaugrill on Instagram and Twitter,” says Oyasato. “Different items are always in the works!”

Surf and Turf ($17) with Krazy Rice substitute (add $1)

On a Roll

Hawaii’s food trucks are legendary for their diversity. It’s no surprise that Kau Kau Grill began as a food truck, launched in 2013 by owners Miles Oyasato and Ty Takishita. “We always liked cooking, and my friend offered us his truck,” recalls Oyasato.

“Now we’re in Mapunapuna with a storefront!”

This low-key, excellent little eatery is one of Mapunapuna’s best-kept secrets. Everything at Kau Kau Grill is made in-house, including sauces and marinades. “We also do catering and parties, whatever you want from the menu,” says owner Miles Oyasato. “There hasn’t been a group we’ve turned down yet!”

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