Filling Plates With Local FavoritesInside Feature
December 30, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
It’s a busy Saturday at Kau Kau Grill and the local eatery in the industrial heart of Mapunapuna is practically busting at the seams.
A trio of roofers on a break from a day of overtime come in and order big combo plates to fuel their afternoon. A harried dad rushes in to pick up a phone order for his ravenous teenagers, who have just won their game, while a sun-kissed pair of middle-aged tourists wait for a huge order of Pulehu ribs.
Those spectacular ribs go beautifully with Kau Kau’s delectable shrimp, tossed in a glorious garlic sauce made with olive oil instead of butter. At $17, Pulehu Beef Short Ribs with Garlic Shrimp combo is a satisfying and hearty feast. Like all plates here, it’s served with rice and your choice of green salad or Kau Kau’s own spaghetti mac salad. And Kau Kau’s delectable spicy barbecue fried rice, called Krazy Rice, can be swapped with the complimentary white rice for $1 per scoop or purchased a la carte for $3.
With ahi purchased fresh each day, the fish items absolutely shine here. You can’t go wrong with a Garlic Ahi plate ($12 regular, $9 mini) or — if you love smoked pork and spicy poke — a combo plate featuring Smoked Meat and Spicy Ahi ($19).
Those who wish to launch the Year of the Pig with a meal in which pork is the star should choose BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($12 regular, $9 mini), a hugely popular item at Kau Kau Grill. One can also find these delectable ribs in two other plates.
“Our ‘must try’ items would be our combos, including the Trust Us Special (barbecue baby back ribs and garlic shrimp) and the K Special (barbecue ribs and spicy ahi), but everything can be made into your own combo,” says manager Ryan Souza. “All our items are made in-house, and we make all of our sauces and marinades.”
Known for generous plates and combo meals, this busy kitchen first gained its reputation as a food truck that sold excellent local plates here and there around town.
“We started in 2013 on Kapahulu,” remembers owner and partner Miles Oyasato. “We moved to Kapiolani, then hopped around Ala Moana and Fisherman’s Wharf for a little while, and then we found our storefront in Mapunapuna.”
Kau Kau Grill is open for 4 1/2 hours every day (except Sunday), so you must plan accordingly to get your plate lunch fix — due to the holiday season, Kau Kau Grill is closed now until Jan. 1. Those who want to track Kau Kau’s weekly specials should check out @kaukaugrill on Instagram and Twitter.