Pigging Out on Kalua Pork

Columns Ono, You Know

April 19, 2015

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Bodie Collins

What represents Hawaii’s carnivorous culture more than kalua pork? Nothing. That’s right, kalua pork, which primarily is unique to the Islands, is spreading across the nation as a must-have source of protein. The word “kalua” is a Hawaiian word that refers to cooking in an underground oven or imu.

Traditionally, a whole pig seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt is placed inside a large pit that’s dug into the ground. The pit is lined with greenery such as banana leaves or ti leaves that insulate the meat, and aid in the steaming process. Hot lava rocks are then added to the pit, and once the pig is covered with more greenery and soil, it’s left to cook throughout the day. Although the preparation process is in fact long and grueling, the end result is worth it. The pork meat effortlessly falls off the bone, so tender and moist. My luau favorite, it’s the signature flavor of kalua pig that lures me in. Salty marries smoky to form a match made in heaven.

This week, I took my cravings to the following OYK restaurants, and pigged out big time on amazing kalua pork renditions that are smokin’ hot!


As an avid bruncher, I simply cannot resist YogurStory. But then, not many can when we’re speaking of this hot spot on Keeaumoku Street. Don’t let the name confuse you, the restaurant started off as a self-serve yogurt shop, although with a two-level, spacious vicinity to fill, it was decided that YogurStory was better off offering a more expanded menu.

Today, this contemporary cafe beckons quite a crowd between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch that’s decked out in Eurasian fusion and island flair.

The best-selling Ube Pancakes seduce your sweet tooth. And perhaps for something much more savory, Kalua Pork Loco Moco exceeds every expectation.

Priced at $14, this local favorite with a twist is 100-percent onolicious!

A heap of shredded kalua pig and two eggs cooked the way you like sit atop a mound of white rice smothered in brown gravy.

Executive chef Brandon Stover is a self-proclaimed fan of kalua pig and loco mocos, so, of course, he says, the conception of the dish was a no-brainer.

“The kalua pig definitely is the star of the dish. We season the pork with our secret recipe, and then we put it in the oven for about four hours until tender,” he explains. “The saltiness of the protein mixes perfectly with the rice and creaminess of the egg.”

YogurStory also serves up a Kalua Pig Benedict served on a poi roll with brown gravy, poached egg and the restaurant’s classic hollandaise sauce.

815 Keeaumoku St., Ste. 105

Restaurant Epic

Restaurant Epic's Grilled Pork Spring Rolls ($6) L. FRIEL PHOTO

Restaurant Epic’s Grilled Pork Spring Rolls ($6) L. FRIEL PHOTO

In the heart of Chinatown is Restaurant Epic, a trendy establishment that gives way to an eclectic variety of fabulous, flavor-filled fare.

For the ultimate dose of kalua pig, feast on Grilled Pork Spring Rolls ($6).

A Restaurant Epic original, Grilled Pork Spring Rolls are filled to the brim with shredded, seasoned kalua pork, shredded carrots and cabbage, and deep-fried a gorgeously crisp golden brown.

Bite right into these four pieces of voluptuous spring rolls, and be amazed. Restaurant Epic won’t unveil the specifics that go into these spring rolls, but the preparation of the pig is essential. The pork shoulder is rubbed with a special 16-spice rub, which includes paprika, fennel, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, onion powder and more. The kalua pig is left to absorb the flavor for a day, before its finally smoked to an absolute tenderness for close to eight hours.

Sweet chili sauce accompanies these zesty rolls, which are just a part of the epic dining experience.

Restaurant Epic
1131 Nuuanu Ave.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best