Fat and happy


POSTED: Wednesday, March 03, 2010

There are certain people who you want to stay close to in case of emergencies. My ex-boyfriend, for instance. He could hunt, fish, fix just about anything mechanical or electronic and maintain a sense of humor in the worst of circumstances. The Hawaii MacGyver, friends call him.

I, on the other hand, live in an alternate, somewhat spacey universe. If you've seen the film “;Breakfast on Pluto,”; I'm like Kitten (without the cross-dressing aspect). If there's fire, I hurtle straight toward it. Just curious, I guess. At the age of 5 or 6, old enough to know better, I famously put my finger on a car lighter glowing orange. I knew it was hot but just had to know how hot. I got a big curvy white blister on my thumb out of the experience.

So it is with every disaster warning. You know all those people who fill up their gas tanks, run out for water, toilet paper, canned goods and other essentials? I'm never one of them.

And, when the tsunami was about to hit Saturday morning, while people headed for the hills, I headed to lowland Kailua, all the while wondering why there were so many people parked at the top of the Pali.

It was just plain luck that while most of Kailua was smartly shut down in the early morning and afternoon, the places I intended to be, the jointly owned Hibachi and Fatboy's, were open! It sort of sums up their reason for being — find a need and fill it.







        301 A Hahani St. » 263-2697

        Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

        94-1221 Ka Uka Blvd., Waipio » 680-7520

        Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays

        Food ;*;*;*

        Service ;*;*;*

        Ambience N/A

        Value ;*;*;*;1/2

        Cost: About $20 for two




        515 Kailua Road » 263-7980

        Food: You cook ;*;*;*;*

        They cook ;*;*

        Service ;*;*;*

        Ambience N/A

        Value ;*;*;*;1/2

        Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and until 8 p.m. Sundays Cost: About $20 for two

Ratings compare similar restaurants:
        ;*;*;*;* - excellent
        ;*;*;* - very good; exceeds expectations
        ;*;* - average
        ;* - below average.


The plate lunch haven Fatboy's was the first to open with local-style plate lunches. I didn't check it out for the longest time because I found the name somewhat off-putting. Am I right, ladies? To guys, a place named Fatboy's might sound like heaven, but a name can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I don't think any one of us wants to be fatter than we are.

Of course, their menu probably contains no more fat than the typical local plate-lunch haven, but they do serve a market attracted to the “;bigga mo' betta”; mantra, addressed by their third-pounder burgers, triple-decker sandwiches and the gut-busting, protein-filled Fatboy's Burger ($6.50). I ended up polishing off the whole thing, plus fries ($2.50). It was a little messy, but I had no problem tackling the burger, which is topped with two strips of bacon and a fried egg, plus the usual lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles.

Staffers seem to be most proud of their saucey deep-fried garlic chicken nuggets ($6.95 mini, $8.50 regular), but they tend to be more dry and chewy than crisp, even when hot out of the kitchen. I preferred their teriyaki-saturated BBQ short ribs ($6.50, $8.50) and appreciated the buerre blanc sauce served with a plate of mahimahi, one of five daily alternating specials.

Standards like roast pork, beef stew, chili frank, hamburger steak, kalua cabbage and chicken katsu, plus breakfast items, round out the menu.

On Tsunami Saturday, the small number of staffers did a great job keeping up with the demand. That would seem to bode well for more normal days.



I was primarily interested in Hibachi. I was driving down Kailua Road a while back when I spotted its barrel grill outside and assumed it was a restaurant. I was back the next week to find another concept in place.

Hibachi occupies the former Michael's Liquor store space, with a more upscale approach to liquor and food. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all your beach picnic, tailgate or backyard barbecue needs. In addition to beer, wine and sake, you'll find grill-ready raw marinated meats, as well as pupu and side dishes such as poke, seaweed salad, boiled peanuts and macaroni salad, plus bags of chips and kiawe wood for your own hibachi.

When I lived in Kailua, I grilled every weekend. Now I never do, but experimenting with my own marinades and dry rubs was half the fun back then. If Hibachi had been there, I wonder how often I would have used their steaks versus my own, but I do think there's room for complementary efforts and variety.

I liked working with pork ribs best, but probably would have come here for lamb chops that cook up better than that of any restaurant here. At home we simply pan-fried the chops to eliminate any of the flavor enhancements or advantages of grilling.

In the showcase during my visit was an herb- and spice-rubbed bone-in rib-eye steak ($10.95 per pound) that was similarly fantastic. If you want to set up a tasting at home, you could try USDA prime rib eye simply dusted with salt and cracked black peppercorns side by side with grass-fed, hormone-free Big Island rib eye to settle any questions you might have about the grass-fed difference.

Also offered are teriyaki-marinated chicken, short ribs and such exotic burgers as 8-ounce ostrich patties or buffalo patties, at $7.50 each.

Their spicy tobiko ahi poke ($12.95 per pound) lived up to its spicy introduction, and I loved the fresh snap and pop of the roe. Rarely do these tiny pearls make their presence known this noisily. Next time I might try Hibachi's more unusual celery cilantro tako poke ($9.95 per pound).

If you're there between about 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays or Sundays, the grill is going outside, and you can pick up a plate lunch of what they're cooking that day. Unfortunately, they seem to like their meat well done, and chicken on skewers turns out to be tough, dry nuggets. The barbecue short ribs fare a little better, as does a pesto-coated salmon fillet.

It'll be interesting to see whether Hibachi's niche will hold up to competition from Whole Foods Market, but for now, this is the place to get your meat fix on the Windward side.


Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).