Let the Beef Tongue Do the Talking

Columns Ono, You Know

June 16, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Last week, it was burgers that captivated my being, and truth be told, my meat cravings have not subsided. Nope. In fact, I’ve been grilling up a storm at my favorite yakiniku hot spots — seasoned beef, short ribs and ribeye are my top picks. However, during a recent conversation with my co-worker about our mutual love for meat, he suggested I try beef tongue to add some excitement to my dining adventures.

“Really?,” I asked, unsure of what to expect. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could stomach it.

“Yes! You don’t know what you’re missing out on,” he replied. “I always order beef tongue.”

So, this week, I thought, “Hey, why not?”

Beef tongue is deemed a delicacy in some parts of the world, and for good reason! Beef tongue is the tongue of a cow, and is very high in fat content, thus making it extremely tender, intensely flavorful and simply awesome! When cooked and seasoned perfectly, it’s one of best meats you’ll ever have.

Well, enough chatter, Ono readers … Here at the following Ono, You Know establishments, we’ll let the beef tongues do the talking. Whether it’s served yakiniku style or in a stew, I promise you’ll be proud to go beyond your comfort zone to get your protein fix.

Kit n Kitchen

For any indecisive diner, Kit n Kitchen on University Avenue will leave you pondering the menu for days. The plethora of options is mind boggling and the fusion of cuisine is superb. For example, hints of Chinese, Italian and even Moroccan flavors accent many of the dishes, and this is the place to be if you want to expose the palate to wonders beyond its comfort zone.

For starters, awaken your senses to Grilled Beef Tongue. Priced at $8.95, this appetizer has consistently received a positive response from guests.

“The beef tongue is extremely soft and tender,” says owner Kit Yiu. “We marinate it and stew it first to make it tender, then we grill it and season it with sea salt.”

The meat is sliced into bite-size pieces and a special shoyu sauce enhances the flavor.

Kit n Kitchen wows diners once more with its unique take on Beef Tongue Stew ($14.95). This entree is abundant in flavor and features morsels of sliced beef tongue that has been marinated in a savory stew for about three hours. The meat, extremely tender, just falls apart. Your choice of spaghetti or rice also complements the dish.

“The tomato stew features carrots, celery, onions, fresh garlic and cayenne pepper as well,” Yiu explains, adding that the stew itself brings a pop of flavor to the beef tongue. “People love our beef tongue dishes!”

And if you love beef tongue, but tomato stew isn’t your thing, Kit n Kitchen can pair the meat with a black pepper sauce or a Hong Kong-style cream pepper sauce. Better yet, make it a beef tongue marathon and sample all of the different concoctions.

Kit n Kitchen
Varsity Center
1010 University Ave.


Traditional Japanese yakiniku dining is spiced up with bursts of Korean flair at Heijouen, a popular restaurant chain in Tokyo, Japan, that recently opened its doors in Hawaii.

“Our first American location is in Honolulu,” says manager Hiroshi Shimada. “Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures, so this was the perfect fit.”

An interactive dining experience, yakiniku is a treat for the whole family, as customers cook their preferred raw meats on their very own private tabletop grill. And the chef makes it priority to only offer the best cuts of meat. According to Shimada, the chefs at Heijouen hand cut all meats, which results in exceptional quality and marbling.

Premium meats such as Beef Fine Kalbi, Beef Fine Outside Skirt and Beef Fine Loin are among the bestsellers here. Yet, when you want to be adventurous, Thick Cut Tongue ($10.80) is the way to go. Now, if you’ve never tried beef tongue before, it’s an acquired taste — you either love it or you hate it. One, bite into Heijouen’s beef tongue … and it’s … Mmm, onolicious love.

And Shimada let me in on a little secret. “The chef cuts small slits into the meat, so that it absorbs all the flavor and remains tender and juicy.”

For a thinner cut of meat, Fine Tongue ($7.80) also is available, and Shimada recommends shio sauce, composed of salt, pepper and sesame oil, to accompany the beef tongue.

Finally, cheers to Heijouen’s full bar, which showcases a number of beer, wines and mixed drinks.

949 Kapahulu Ave.

Them Dining

Them Dining's Beef Tongue Stew ($20.50). Photo: Rachel Breit

Them Dining’s Beef Tongue Stew ($20.50). Photo: Rachel Breit

Situated within Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel is Them Dining. Renowned for its Japanese-French fusion, this humble oasis of a restaurant seats about 20 people and goes big on taste. Open daily for lunch and dinner, I was curious as to what its Beef Tongue Stew amounted to.

Well, it wasn’t long before chef Kazuo Shimada began raving about the restaurant’s Beef Tongue Stew ($20.50), a demi-glace stew beautified with pieces of melt-in-your-mouth beef tongue, seasoned and seared to perfection, along with potato, broccoli and red bell pepper. A side of rice and a fresh salad complete the meal.

“We cook Beef Tongue stew for about four hours. It’s delicious,” explains Shimada, who first visited the Islands 30 years ago and always had vowed to return. Now that he’s back, he says, “Most of the items on the menu are original recipes.”

Complimentary parking for Them Dining (valet only) is available at Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel, as well as meter parking on nearby streets.

Them Dining conquers the biggest of appetites!

Them Dining
Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel
2375 Ala Wai Blvd.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best