The Weekly Eater


Sunday, July 14, 2002

Maize Ruest, owner of Flyin' Hawaiian Hot Dog Hut in Kailua, shows off her chili dog.

Hot dogs and more will fly
into your tummy in Kailua

Every food has its season, and if summer brings cherries, strawberries and mangoes, it also brings hot dogs. When it's time to abandon the kitchen for the grill, adults must have their ribs, shellfish, corn on the cob, onions and sweet red bell peppers, but gotta move some of that aside to make room for hot dogs for the kids.

There are dog kiosks all over the place -- one of the newest is Bite My Dogs over at Aloha Tower Marketplace near Kapono's -- but few are as fun as Flyin' Hawaiian Hot Dog Hut in Kailua. The place might have started as a "hut" but has grown to claim some sizable turf in the Daiei parking lot, between the Kailua post office and Bob Twogood's Kayaks.

What used to be a blank patch of asphalt is now a small oasis with several picnic and umbrella-covered tables cordoned off by potted plumeria, areca palms, hibiscus and other plants.

It's the work of Mavis Ruest, also known as Maize (pronounced like Hirono, not the corn). She was a hospital endoscopy technician inserting micro-cameras into people for a living before deciding she'd had enough of health-care bureaucracy and driving over the hill every day.

She and her partner honed in on hot dogs just because they couldn't find 'em in Kailua. The business name was inspired by her dog Kimo, who would entertain her by balancing on her feet as she did leg lifts at home. "I'd call him my flyin' dog," she said.

Customers Kathy Bogatin and Tom Jones enjoy the food while basking in the open air and the glow of a sunny mural.

After sampling many different hot dogs, she focused on Miller dogs out of Oakland and opened last August. "Then Sept. 11 happened, then winter came and it was slow because of the rain. Our picnic tables are covered, but people don't like to sit in the rain eatin'."

These days though, the hot dogs are flyin' out the door.

IN THE BEGINNING she offered little beyond the basic beef or Polish (pork and beef) dog and typical combos ($3.75 to $5) of dog, soda and chips. Dog connoisseurs are particularly enamored with her condiment bar, which features her local Volcano Relish concoction, made with crushed pineapples and sweet chili sauce, plus everything -- tomatoes, mustard, celery seed, diced onion and sweet pickle relish (hot peppers optional) -- you need to craft your own Chicago dog.

And ketchup? Heinz red, purple and green.

The hut comes equipped with a soft-serve ice cream machine for crafting 32-ounce root beer and cola floats ($2.60), because Ruest said, "When I was a kid, having a root beer or cola float with your hot dog, that was the bomb."

Ruest has added to the menu ever since, and currently dubbed Da Bomb with her is a Maui Cheese Steak dressed up with sautéed mushrooms ($7). The basic Maui Cheese Steak ($6.50) is really a Philly Cheese Steak made with sweet Maui onions, five ounces of rib-eye steak and green bell peppers.

The chop steak plate ($7) is really Da Bomb on a plate with two scoops of rice and cole slaw. Ruest also makes a chili dog plate ($6) with a mild hamburger and kidney bean chili that's helped considerably with a heap of diced onion from the condiment bar.

Finish with a plain vanilla cone ($1.75) or 32 ounces of lemonade ($1.50).

And don't forget your own dog. Flyin' Hawaiian has a doggie watering station and special treats for pooches because, Ruest said, "I hate it when restaurants have signs that say 'Dogs not allowed.' Call me a kook but people seem to like it. They see the dogs and say, 'Gee, this is like Paris!' "

Flyin' Hawaiian Hot Dog Hut

345 Hahani St. / 429-5624

Food StarStarStarStar

Service StarStarStarStar

Ambience StarStarStar

Value StarStarStarStar

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Cost: About $5 to $8 per person

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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

very good, exceeds expectations;
below average.

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