Big City, Big Portions, Big Appetite

Columns Pupu Picks

January 21, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Take a few items off the menu and Big City Diner may no longer be Big City Diner. Ray Chan’s Island-Style Poke ($8.99) and The Really Loco, Loco Moco ($9.99) are as much a part of the restaurant as its cozy and traditional decor. The third leg in the holy trinity of Big City’s signature dishes is Grandma’s Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($8.99).

  • Grandma's Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($8.99) and Roasted Garlic Fries ($5.99)
  • Wings Over Big City ($9.99)
  • Mary Urata with Roasted Garlic Fries ($5.99) and Wings Over Big City ($9.99)
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Made with peas, onion, egg, char sui pork and, of course, fresh kim chee, the appetizer/main course menu item is a favorite among guests for a very good reason: It’s creamy and delicious. Yes, the kim chee is a big part of the appeal, but it is the sauce, made with oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, shoyu and few other semi-secret ingredients, that turns this simple menu item into something special.

Chilled Tofu ($4.99) on a diner appetizer menu may seem strange, but it works and provides a lighter option. The locally produced tofu is topped with chopped green onion and sesame seeds, and served with grated ginger, to which shoyu is typically mixed. The mixture provides a bit of kick and traditional flavor to the creamy tofu.

The mild flavor of the tofu complements the sweet and spicy sauce on another pupu pick, Wings Over Big City ($9.99). With a taste that is a little bit Southern, a little bit Kansas City and, as assistant manager Ron Ching says, “a whole bunch local,” the sauce has a good balance that stays away from being overpowering in any direction. One word of advice: Ask for extra napkins. The tender chicken and slightly sticky sauce will have you licking your fingers. On second thought, bypass the napkins in favor of the more natural approach.

If barbecue sauce on your chin is better left for another day, try the Roasted Garlic Fries ($5.99). Crispy and with enough garlic to offend most vampires, the fries are a simple and tasty way to share food with friends while talking story or waiting for the main course to arrive. Or don’t share them. What happens at Big City Diner … well, eventually gets back to your friends, as someone you know is likely to be in the booth next to you.

Big City Diner

  • Where
    • Kaimuki
    • 3565 Waialae Avenue
    • Kailua
    • 108 Hekili Street
    • Ward
    • 1060 Auahi Street
    • Waipio
    • 94-800 Ukee Street
    • Pearlridge
    • 98-211 Pali Momi Street
  • Call
    • (808) 738-8845 (Kaimuki)
    • (808) 263-8880 (Kailua)
    • (808) 591-8891 (Ward)
    • (808) 678-8868 (Waipio)
    • (808) 487-8188 (Pearlridge)
  • Hours
    • 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 7 a.m. – midnight
    • Friday – Saturday
  • Website

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