Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Kuhio GrilleRestaurant Insider
June 28, 2020
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
ANNE LEE speaks with Kuhio Grille co-owner LAUREN ARAKI
Fans of local food have flocked to Kuhio Grille for Hawaiian dishes and massive plate lunch faves since 1995 when it opened on the Big Island.
A location in Kaimuki followed in 2019 and has been serving up the same comfort foods and sweet treats that Oahuans and visitors have come to love.
Lauren Araki, who runs the restaurants with her sisters Shannon and Erin, shares what delicious items are on the takeout menu, including party-size pans for large get-togethers, as well as some big news for the Hilo location.
AL: Kuhio Grille has been open offering takeout throughout COVID-19. What measures have you implemented for the safety of your restaurant patrons?
LA: We have always strived to be a clean restaurant in general, but with COVID-19 we’ve beefed up our regular disinfecting of our doors and surface areas. And, of course, face masks. (The restaurant currently is not offering dine-in service.)
AL: You are known as the home of the 1-pound laulau. How much is this, and what variations do you offer?
LA: Our 1-pound laulau has garnered us many awards, and is one of our signature dishes. The price is $8.79 just for the laulau, but my favorite is the Kanak Atak, which consists of the 1-pound laulau, kalua pig, poi, lomi lomi salmon, pickled onions and haupia. This is only $22.99 for all of that. We don’t have it all the time, but we do also offer the 1-pound laulau with just chicken, or we also do a vegetarian laulau. I’ve had the vegetarian laulau, and it’s not bad. Keep in mind, I’m a big meat eater.
AL: Please tell me what your most popular item is?
LA: Hands down, the Kanak Atak is our most popular. That is $22.99. Our Fried Rice Loco is a close runner-up at just $11.99 — you get our famous fried rice, homemade hamburger patty, egg and homemade gravy. Though, my favorites are the homemade desserts. They range from $5.25 to $6.95.
AL: What about for guests with children?
LA: Unfortunately, we don’t have a keiki menu at this location (Kaimuki), but most of the keiki enjoy our loco bowls, fried rice and Sweetbread French Toast.
AL: What specials do you have currently?
LA: We have daily specials. Right now, we are offering the chicken katsu plate for $10 with coupon — you can find this offer in Dining Out!
AL: Tell me about your amazing dessert options.
LA: Oh my, there’s so many to talk about. The Oreo Cream Pie, that’s got an Oreo cookie crust with a cream cheese mix, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and Oreo crumbles on top. Our other popular ones are the Mac Nut Cream Pie and Blueberry Cream Cheese. They both have a shortbread cookie crust and are all made in-house. Some of my other specialty desserts are the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pie, Strawberry Dream and Sweet Potato Haupia. So many options, so little time.
AL: With graduations not being able to take place in large gatherings, what options do you offer for families for dine-in or takeout?
LA: It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to celebrate our graduates like we’re used to with a large grad party. But for those who still wish to have a get-together we have party pans, like our yakitori chicken in a half-size pan for $57. Another option is just grab-and-go plates, which we’ve done for a few families that have had drive-thru celebrations. We’re happy to work with our guests to tailor it to their needs. (See breakout box for prices.)
AL: Is there anything else you want to share?
LA: We are sad to say that we will be leaving our original home that we’ve been at for over 25 years at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo and are now moving to 80 Pauahi St. (formerly the Liko Lehua). The new location will offer an open dining area with seating on the lanai to follow. We will also be able to offer you a beer or wine with your meal, which is something we were unable to do before. We are targeting an opening in the new Hilo location for Wednesday, July 8. The Kuhio Grille ohana looks forward to seeing you and your family at our new location. Mahalo to the community for supporting our family restaurant through these challenging times. Without our awesome customers, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open and lights on. Mahalo nui loa to everyone, and we look forward to feeding you and your ohana.
A plethora of pans
Half pan $57
Boneless Korean Chicken
Half pan $70
Pork Cutlet with Gravy
Half pan $50
Kalua Pig and Cabbage
Half pan $32
Fried Rice (full for $55)
Full 8-by-8 pies $43
Mac Nut Cream Pie
Oreo Cream Pie
Banana Blueberry Cream Cheese