Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Aloha Hawaiian Barbecue - part 2

Aloha from Hana, Maui! The road to Hana is breathtaking, both for its view and for the stomach-clenching curves, one-lane bridges, and narrow roads often just wide enough for one. Along the way we also found some tasty "Hawaiian-style" barbecue. To read about barbecue during the first part of our trip, read part 1.

Our first stop was at a shack, Ka-Haku's BBQ Smokeshack. You won't find this one in any guidebook. It was as rustic as it comes, but the young man behind the grill put plenty of love into his food. I ordered the pork, of which there was some left, plus he "added some chicken because I had it ready." I also made sure to grab a still-warm loaf of banana bread that just about every little fruit stand or craft shack sells along the way. These aren't your mama's banana breads - they are dense and gooey slabs mostly of fresh picked ripe bananas, a little flour and sugar to keep it all together. Mmmm.

I gulped when he told me it would be twenty bucks. I knew that wasn't the local price, but it was enough for two and had something other than the standard macaroni salad on the side. Instead it had a piquant salad made from the fiddleheads of the Lawai fern. I tasted a little vinegar, salt, and something else I couldn't decipher. Whatever it was, it was damn good. This same salad could be served at the spa as "Native Hawaiian, sustainably harvested fiddlehead greens from the Lawai Valley". So twenty bucks was a fair price in the end.

The meat was of the sweet kalbi-marinade grilled-style of Hawaiian barbecue. I think it spent a few days in the marinade, almost cooking it, giving it a deep sweet flavor. It was of course served with rice. The smoked pig you find at the expensive tourist luaus would be more for special occasions, while grilling seems to be the standard "everyday" barbecue. Like I said in part one, Hawaiians know the difference and do both well.

Near or in Hana proper, we've tried two other joints thus far, and a third is on our list. I tried the pulled pork sandwich at Tutu's Snack Shop down at Hana Bay. The beach there is nice and mild for the young ones, so after a day of chasing waves, my son and I worked up an appetite. The pork was lightly smoked, but was a little watery. Definite reheat. The portion was also pretty wimpy. The slaw was crisp, had a little pineapple in it which was nice, and served properly on the bun. It was about what I expected from a snack shop. Their bread and butter is from the hot dog, burger, ice cream crowd. Still, it wasn't drowned in barbecue sauce. In fact, I haven't seen a bottle of barbecue sauce since I've been here.

I felt much more barbecue love at Braddah's Hutt's BBQ Grill. It was all grilled, marinated meats as stated on the sign, "Island Styles". Grillmastah Braddah Hutt and his wife have been grilling for the public for 11 years. Located just past the general store in Hana, he has a nice set up in his yard with tables under cover, drinks, and quite a few menu offerings.

We ordered the chicken, pork, and short rib plates. I wish I had a better picture. I thought I left my camera there so I had to dash back there while the family ate. They left me plenty, but you don't see how hearty the portions were.

The chicken was the best - absolutely tender. The pork was a thick slab. I'm not sure of the cut. It seemed too lean for pork shoulder, but it could have been butt. I wanted smoked pulled pork, so the grilled slab wasn't my favorite. The short ribs were tasty. He mopped all of them in a slightly sweet brown sauce that most likely had brown sugar and soy sauce in it. All of the meats were cooked perfectly - not overdone, no char, and the short ribs on the rare side, or as he said, "medium-raw". They served each with two scoops of rice and a scoop of homemade macaroni salad. I'd definitely be back if we had the time.

Will there be a part 3? I sure hope so. So many places, so little time. Besides, we have to leave time to swim on beaches of every color - black, brown, red and white. It's like that with the barbecue here, many colors and cultures have influenced the cuisine so each little hole in the wall interprets things their own way. I love that.


  1. Hello Julie. You make me homesick for Hawaii and hungry for kalua pig and the best mac salad on the planet. I lived there for more than 20 years and am now in of all places Georgia. I will follow your great story and hope you come to see my page one day too. Take care, Aloha, Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

  2. followers section not showing up so i'll come back and try later. later, Keri

  3. Thank you, Sam. The macaroni salads were wonderful, as was the barbecue. We just landed back in cold Seattle and I'm missing Maui already! I'll be sure to check out your page.

  4. hey juile, this is great!! lol! its just we stopped at "ku haku's smoke shack" last year and thought it was amazing! you cant find that anywhere else! we are going back to maui in a few weeks and i was looking at some places we went to when we went down Hana. i really wanted to go back there. i was searching for some things, and stumbled upon your blog. very cool! :) its nice to see they are still around! (and pricey as ever! ha) you know what is funny? i asked him what he marinates his meat with (i had steak) and he told me its just ketchup!!
    thanks for mentioning what the salad was made of, it was good and different.. i had no idea it was fiddleheads.
    their kids were too cute also!
    thanks for sharing!!

  5. You pegged Bruddah Hutts' on the nose. We found it last year and will be going again in May. Yes, making the entire road to Hana journey just for Bruddah Hutts! If you liked their macaroni, L & L Hawaiian BBQ in Lynnwood has the same style.

  6. It's amazing how many of us have stumbled upon the same barbecue huts. Thanks also for the Lynwood Hawaiian BBQ suggestions. Lately it seems I keep going to Lynwood for kid activities (bouncy parties, rollerskating, bowling...) We made macaroni salad TODAY at Smokin' Pete's, because I was missing it!

  7. ku haku's smoke shack is the best! I'm a huge BBQ fan and just came back from Maui where i met a real chill guy who ran ku haku's smoke shack - he knows what he is doing and knows how to spread a good vibe.