Beggin’ for Brisket

Columns Ono, You Know

October 9, 2016

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

The editor steps behind the takeout window at Kahai Street Kitchen's new digs on Coolidge Street to dish out a succulent serving of Guava Barbecue Braised Brisket.

The editor steps behind the takeout window at Kahai Street Kitchen’s new digs on Coolidge Street to dish out a succulent serving of Guava Barbecue Braised Brisket.

You really do learn something new every day. I was reminded of the old adage this past week while swooning over tender slabs of beef brisket at some local dining spots. It wasn’t until I started asking the chefs about how they perfect the melt-in-your-mouth beef that I learned it actually starts out as a very tough cut.

Brisket comes from the lower chest of the cow, a region that helps support a lot of the animal’s body weight. As a result, it has a lot of firm connective tissue, which calls for cooking the brisket very slowly over a long period of time — we’re talking hours — to gradually breakdown that tissue and leave us with fork-tender meat.

There are many traditions surrounding brisket, but in the South, it’s often smoked and slathered in barbecue sauce or a spice rub. Our Ono, You Know selections here reference some of those flavors, but with some added local flair, of course!

Even though we may not have always appreciated the time chefs take to make brisket flawlessly delicious — we can change that right now:


If you’ve been craving a gourmet plate lunch from Kahai Street Kitchen but couldn’t find it at the old Kalihi location, don’t worry — the business is still around, it’s just moved to Coolidge Street in Moiliili.

Customers can still devour all of their favorites at the new locale, including Guava Barbecue Braised Brisket ($9.25).

Guava Barbecue Braised Brisket ($9.25) from Kahai Street Kitchen.

Guava Barbecue Braised Brisket ($9.25) from Kahai Street Kitchen.

The dish used to be a popular special but is now here to stay on the regular menu. Kahai Street Kitchen regulars, including yours truly, can’t get enough of the brisket flat covered in an addicting house-made barbecue sauce, complete with a guava twist. Jalapeno slaw also adds a great punch of flavor.

As for the brisket itself, head chef and co-owner David Yamamoto braises it for six hours before finishing it off in the char-broiler. “It’s a hard meat to start with, but after you braise it, it becomes really tender and really juicy, too,” he says.

And like with any true culinary masterpiece, timing is everything. “If you under-cook the brisket, it’s going to be really tough,” adds Yamamoto.

Kahai Street Kitchen’s menu of affordably priced yet upscale island fare is now available Tuesday-Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The catering side of the businesss — which is how the eatery got its start — also continues to flourish daily.

Kahai Street Kitchen
946 Cooldige St., Moiliili

Honolulu, HI 96826


When in search of a sizable brisket entree that is priced just right, make your next stop New Eagle Cafe.

The local diner has been serving generations of kamaaina patrons since the 1960s. Its menu of classic American favorites mixed with islandand Asian-inspired dishes makes for one comforting-as-can-be dining experience.

Barbecue Beef Brisket ($16.95) from New Eagle Cafe

Barbecue Beef Brisket ($16.95) from New Eagle Cafe

In true diner fashion, New Eagle’s portions are something to write home about — especially when it comes to Barbecue Beef Brisket ($16.95). This large-and-in-charge hunk of slow-cooked meat is topped with a tangy drizzle of barcecue sauce, while cole slaw and corn on the cobb are served on the side — you can almost hear the country music playing in the background. Patrons also may choose a starch (white or brown rice, mashed potatoese or french fries) to accompany their meal.

Aside from pleasing folks with this brisket, New Eagle Cafe currently offers a Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwich and Cheese Steak Sandwich — both of which are popular. Newcomers also are encouraged to try house favorites like prime rib and oxtail soup.

New Eagle Cafe
Nimitz Center,
1130 N. Nimitz Hwy., Ste. A-100

Honolulu, HI 96817

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