‘Summer’s Thanksgiving’ Calls for Pipikaula

Columns Ono, You Know

June 8, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

The onset of summer (just two weeks away, mind you) means hotter temps, sun-kissed tans, memorable vacations or staycations (for those lucky ones!) and any excuse to throw a social gathering centered around food, food, food … and more food.

So, who’s down for a fun-filled beach barbecue? I affectionately deem this full-on feast “Summer’s Thanksgiving,” because there’s definitely something about salt-water and sun after a dip in the ocean that works up a ravenous appetite. The official OYK BBQ (#oykbbq) spread includes all the necessary fixings, such as Spam musubi, teri burgers, hot dogs, spicy chicken, mac salad, rice, fried noodles, sushi, fruit salad, poke, opihi, grilled vegetable skewers, chocolate haupia pie and shave ice. Clearly the spread is massive. But here’s a test: Something’s missing. Not sure what it is? Well, obviously, it wouldn’t be an OYK BBQ without “broke da mout” pipikaula, Hawaiian-style dried beef or jerky traditionally made with salted or brine-soaked meat. Contemporary versions of pipikaula also wow with notes of shoyu, garlic, ginger, honey, sesame seeds and other flavorful seasonings.

And while it would be nice, sadly beach barbecues don’t happen every day. On the bright side, though, if you experience regular cravings for savory, smoked beef, you’ll be stoked to know that the following OYK establishments keep it real with pipikaula. This Hawaiian delicacy, highlighted in a variety of dishes, is the crucial component that begs to be recognized. Mmm… so ono, you know …

People’s Cafe

Longtime patrons of People’s Cafe on Pali Highway (near Longs Drugs and Safeway) have come to know and love the onolicious Hawaiian food that started it all. In 2004, co-owners Tomas Ventura and Conrad Valdriz took over the eatery and stepped it up by introducing Filipino fare to its already well-established menu.

This family-run business flourishes in large part because of its dedicated staff. Committed to quality, Ventura takes no short cuts — and People’s Cafe’s mouth-watering Pipikaula is a prime example of that. Priced at $5.50 for a side order, this prized meat (inside round cut, to be exact) is cut into thick slices and massaged with meat tenderizer. Then, the meaty morsels sit in a soy sauce-based marinade for six to eight hours. Steeped in flavor, pipikaula is left to hang dry overnight.

According to Ventura, pipikaula is a self-proclaimed signature side and is the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s Lau Lau, Kalua Cabbage, Lomi Ahi and Poke plates. Diners also rave about Short Rib Pipikaula Style.

“We serve about 150 pounds of pipikaula a week. We have to keep up with the growing demand,” he confirms. Originally from the Philippines, Ventura is no newbie to Hawaii’s restaurant scene — he’s spent time in the kitchens of Monterey Bay Canners in Pearlridge, Creations in Catering, Columbia Inn and Pagoda.

Now, Ventura calls People’s Cafe home, where everything tastes better when served with an abundance of aloha.

People’s Cafe
1310 Pali Hwy.


Swim makes a splash with its locally crafted menu and island-inspired, “Made in Hawaii” cocktails. Located on the third floor of Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa’s Ewa Tower, just feet away from the pool (where a refreshing dip is hard to resist), the inviting eatery and expansive pool bar attracts guests from across the globe. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Swim orchestrated a slew of options that diners can’t wait to dive into.

To aid in your decision-making process, I give kudos to Swim’s Lobster Louie ($18), a hearty salad comprised of fresh, local greens, chopped boiled egg, a smooth and creamy serving of guacamole, decadent lobster meat, sweet mango and, of course, pipikaula accents are a must, giving the dish a boost of local flair. Lobster Louie is served with a classic Louie dressing.

Chef Jon Matsubara says, “The pipikaula brings a salty, smoky kick to a refined salad.”

Without a doubt, Lobster Louie is an ideal indulgence after a long day at the beach or relaxing by the pool. So, pay a visit to Swim, unwind with a sunset cocktail and enjoy live, local entertainment.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa (Ewa Tower, Third Floor)
2424 Kalakaua Ave.
923-1234 ext. 59

Kahai Street Kitchen

The typical plate lunch — an island staple — is not hard to come by. Yet, when you think “fine-dining plate lunch” does the word “oxymoron” pop into your head as well? Is there even such a concept? Well, the answer is yes. Here at Kahai Street Kitchen, owner Nao Iwata and head chef David Yamamoto turn your ordinary meal into a gourmet feast.

The Kalihi eatery is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and this week, Pipikaula Watercress Salad ($8.95) makes itself known to customers. Won bok, watercress, red and green onions, carrots, beets and daikon curls are the premise of the dish. Thin, tender slices of pipikaula are the game changer, tossed into the salad that’s enhanced with a homemade sweet Maui onion dressing.

“All the ingredients blend nicely,” says Iwata, who opened Kahai Street Kitchen in 2006. “You can taste the spiciness of the watercress, sweetness of the onions and the meat adds saltiness to the salad.

“Pipikaula Watercress Salad is one of our most popular catering options. We just filled a big order for an event,” he adds.

There you go! Lunch is set. Kahai Street Kitchen will blow you away.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best