Making a Mess With a Rockin’ Reuben

Columns Ono, You Know

August 19, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Thick, juicy and undeniably filling, the Reuben sandwich holds its own as a top pick for the ravenously hungry. Packed within two slices of grilled rye bread lies a perfect combination of meat, cheese and sauerkraut, which slowly but surely lures in the heartiest of appetites.

As a self-proclaimed fanatic of this particular patty melt, I am sending my gratitude to the genius creator of this sandwich (rumored to be either Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian-born grocer from Omaha, Neb., or Arnold Reuben, the German owner of the once-famous Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York). Whoever it may be, thank you for shining light into the sandwich stratosphere.

This week, forget the prim and proper when it comes to dining etiquette, because with the Reuben the messier the better! So, here we go! Let’s get ready to get down and dirty as I take on the Reuben Sandwich at the following Ono, You Know establishments!

Kakaako Kitchen

This local hot spot opened its doors for business in 1995 on Waimanu Street before moving to its current location in Ward Centre in March 2000. Twelve years later, Kakaako Kitchen continues to bloom with upscale cuisine at a reasonable price, while always incorporating fresh, local ingredients when available.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kakaako Kitchen keeps it real with its Kakaako Fried Rice, Chicken Katsu Curry, Grilled Honey-Shoyu Marinated Pork Chops, Mixed Island Barbecue and more. Believe me, my mouth is watering already. But on a mission to get messy, it was all about a deli counter favorite — move on over, ham and cheese sandwich, let’s give a round of applause for the one and only Reuben Sandwich ($12.99), featuring thinly sliced and tender pastrami with melted Swiss cheese and sauerkraut mixed with a special Thousand Island sauce on grilled swirl rye bread.

“We make our own Thousand Island sauce and mix our own sauerkraut, and maybe that’s why this particular sandwich has a lot of fans,” says general manager Billy Bal. “I know a lot of people who come back all the time to order this, so that says a lot about the sandwich.”

Then have your choice of greens, fries or mac salad to complete your meal. “We serve a straight-up local-style mac salad,” Bal adds. “The mac salad paired with the sandwich is unreal. It’s the best combination ever!”

You might want to ask for an endless supply of napkins with this savory sandwich, as it just oozes with its onolicious sauce and tender slices of meat. To put it simply, Kakaako Kitchen’s Reuben Sandwich is finger lickin’ good!

Kakaako Kitchen
Ward Centre, Ground Floor
1200 Ala Moana Blvd.


My relentless search for another ah-mazing Reuben led me to Hukilau. Located right in downtown Honolulu in Executive Centre on Bishop Street, this upscale Hawaiian plate lunch-style eatery gives diners much more than your “typical” plate lunch. In fact, here you’ll find — get this — a one-of-a-kind House Smoked Big Island Beef Pastrami Reuben ($12).

At first glance it appears to be like any other Reuben, however, the secret to this one is all in the meat. According to executive chef Jason Takemura, Hukilau only utilizes its house-smoked pastrami.

“We bring in Big Island beef briskets, brine it for 12 days and smoke it in-house,” Takemura says. “We infuse our own flavors through our own brine, and the smoke that we use is a mix of kiawe and apple wood chips.”

If that alone doesn’t entice you, then I don’t know what will. Any fan of a Reuben will go crazy over this one. It’s served on marble rye bread with a Russian dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.

Takemura says Hukilau’s Reuben sandwich has only been on the menu for six months, but has already proven to be a hit with the lunchtime crowd.

“We usually only prepare it during lunch, but if someone requests the sandwich for dinner, we can prepare it for them,” he adds, noting that the dish also comes with french fries, sweet potato fries or Nalo greens.

Take it from me, it only takes one bite of House Smoked Big Island Beef Pastrami Reuben and you’ll be hooked on Hukilau.

Executive Centre
1088 Bishop St.

Wailana Coffee House

I’m notorious for being nocturnal, and thanks to Wailana Coffee House I’ve been able to cure my cravings at such bizarre hours of 3 or 4 a.m. when the rest of the world is sound asleep. Open at all hours of the day or night, Wailana Coffee House, located in the heart of Waikiki, is home to your American and local culinary favorites.

And there are just some things that taste ridiculously ono in the wee hours of the morning: one of them being Wailana’s Corned Beef Sandwich. Priced at $9.35, server Sylvia Noneza says this American classic is extremely popular with patrons. Served hot, Corned Beef Sandwich defines comfort food, and is served with homemade corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing nestled within two pieces of toasted rye bread. A slice of pineapple, a pickle, tomato and lettuce are presented as additional garnish offerings, and a side of french fries completes the meal.

“It’s our corned beef that really stands out because it’s made fresh in the restaurant,” Noneza explains.

And just when you thought that the flavors couldn’t get any better, they do when you capture the flavor of the Thousand Island dressing in every bite. The taste is a force to be reckoned with, making Wailana Coffee House an absolute winner in my book.

Wailana Coffee House
1860 Ala Moana Blvd.

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