I saw the new location of Homestyle Hawaiian back in April. But I just kind of took my time heading on over. These days, I need to space out those plate lunch visits....especially since Homestyle Hawaiian's portion sizes were usually pretty generous. Plus, I'd been visiting HH since beginning at the Mesa College Branch, back in September of 2009. Since then, I've done a ton of posts on HH and had visited their other locations in Chula Vista and Midway. So, not anticipating a very different menu, I just took my time until last month.
I liked the interior; very local kine "gastro-pub-ish". There are about 20 pulls; with everything from Cal Creamin, to Kona Brewing....to Bud Light. Things seemed a bit confused as I didn't quite know what the drill was while waiting for a table. It seems at first the young lady was going to take my order....so perhaps this was fast-casual? But when I said this was for "here"....I was directed to a table. I saw this happen a couple of more times during my two visits.
I really enjoy a "chicken cutlet" when I'm back home. In local terms; katsu comes with local kine (usually ketchup based) katsu sauce, while cutlet means topped with gravy. Try that here in San Diego and you'll get blank stares. I did want to add a bit of gravy to my diet, so I went with the "Make your own Loco Moco" with Chicken Katsu as my base. The gravy a bit gluey, but went well (with some Tabasco...you can take the boy off the island, but....you know) with the nicely fried katsu. The egg was a bit over cooked. There was at least a scoop of rice under the proteins to go with what was topped with furikake. The rice was decent. The item that surprised me the most was the mac salad. I'd never been a fan of HH's mac salad, but it seems to have gotten better over the years. Today it was nicely chilled and decently salted and not overdressed with mayo.
The young lady who served me was very nice, if a bit disorganized and "spacy".....she brought me my plate and then forgot my utensils having to bring me some, same with the Tabasco. Still, this was a nice enough meal.
So I returned with my coworkers Daniel and Calvin. Same really nice young lady, same forgetfulness. She almost brought us another table's food. Then Daniel's Lava Chicken arrived without any "sauce" on it.
I got the combination Korean Chicken and Katsu with (of course) gravy on it.
The Katsu was bit over fried this time around and on the dry side......thank goodness for the gravy which was nicely flavored. That Korean Chicken wasn't quite as good as I recalled; fairly low on flavor, a bit over fried with some burnt bits and on the dry side.
Perhaps they are still settling in, but things seem to be a hit and miss. I'll return in a couple of months to check back in. The location is prime for this type of concept, even with Island Style Café nearby.
Homestyle Hawaiian Pub & Eatery 10601 Tierrasanta Boulevard San Diego, CA 92124 Hours: Monday 5pm - 9pm Tues - Sat 1130am - 9pm Closed Sunday
A few weeks ago; I was in National City and decided to check out what was going on with Point Point Joint. When I drove into the parking lot I was shocked to see PPJ was gone! Wow, first Conching's and now Point Point Joint! I guess I really don't get down here near enough these days. The other thing I was surprised to see; though I probably shouldn't have been, was a place name Poke Etc had taken PPJ's place.
I was just going to get into my car and as we say back home; "hele" to somewhere else. But I decided to take a peek inside; which was kind of interesting. The lay-out seemed very much PPJ; in spite of the freshening up, it still looked a bit worn.
I really wasn't interested in the poke....more interested in the "etc".....stuff like Shoyu Chicken, Lau Lau, Kalua Pork, Teriyaki Chicken....I'm not sure when I last had Ilocano Longanisa. My friends growing up were Ilocano, so I was kind of used to the vinegary; garlicky longanisa. The first time I had Longsilog in San Diego I was rather shocked at how sweet it was. But over the years I've come to enjoy it.
There a collection of "stuffs", an almost random collection most of which you can get from Marukai, and a reach in fridge with Hawaiian Sun, haupia, mac salad, Portuguese sausage (sorry not "my" brand")...you know, etc....
I'd had enough "Mainland poke" for a while so just went with the Lau Lau Combo ($9.95)......not really expecting much.
You know; the lau lau wasn't bad....I mean, it wasn't "really" lau lau if you know what I mean; it was missing the very important salted butterfish, which adds an awesome salty-savory touch to lau lau and is all important. The difference between this and what I typically get here on the mainland is; and it pretty much holds true for most frozen lau lau, is that it was moist, not too salty, it had quite a bit of luau leaf, but I love the steamed taro leaves, which have a smoky, flavor. Again, not really lau lau, but the pork shoulder was moist, tender, and not too stringy. What really put a damper on things is the lack of "chili pepper water"....bummer. The rice was on the dry side foe my taste; especially when eating local kine food.....
I hadn't read the menu very closely; instead of the usual mac salad, this came with a scoop of poke. Oh-oh....... There's basically 8 different poke, already made; over ice, just like home. I'm a purist, so I decided on the Ahi Limu and was pleasantly surprised.
First off, the fish was decent quality; think basically Safeway or Foodland on Oahu. The limu was actually the fine Limu Kohu.......not the hard branches. Some not so great pieces, but mixed and coated evenly, not too salty; a bit of shoyu; this wasn't bad at all.
So I returned and decided to see how the loco moco ($8.95) was. I should have probably just gone with maybe some poke and rice.....
This wasn't good eats, from the very gluey, tasteless gravy; which had the same viscosity as the egg yolk. They just kind of oozed into one another. To the burger which was pretty darn tough, to the rice which was again on the dry side. I just didn't care for this.
The onions might have added to the dish; in this state they added some flavor; but just think if they'd been caramelized a bit more; it would have added some depth.
So, I decided to come in and just get a poke bowl......I got the "Create your own bowl" which was reasonably priced at $8.95. Of course I hot the Ahi Limu and this time added the Kimchi Poke.
On this day the Ahi Limu wasn't right; the fish wasn't coated well, there were too many pieces with tough connective tissue; and in spite of the Limu Kohu, this seemed off. The fish in the Kimchi Poke was slightly better, but not by much. Not a big fan of the flavors which was more salty than spicy. It just wasn't very interesting. To make matters worse, the rice was even more dry than before.
I mean, it's ok to have some pieces with "sugi" in them; but not so many......
Poke Etc was starting to be a bit of enigma; I just couldn't put my finger on what this place did consistently well. I decided to pay one more visit. I was going to order the Shoyu Chicken; but it didn't come with poke and I wanted to give that one more shot. So I decided on the Island Bento ($11.95) to go. The menu states Teriyaki Chicken, Tonkatsu, and Poke. This is what I got.
I have no idea what this was supposed to be, but I don't think it's what I ordered. That tonkatsu was pounded very thin, breaded, then fried to a dry, stringy place that can only be described as death. What's up with the bland sautéed onions and the frozen peas and carrots? Kind of sad because the Ginger Ahi was nicely flavored, not too much ginger, good soy, not too salty, the fish was nicely mixed and coated well, and there were only a few pieces with too much connective tissue. I'd easily have that again.
After this....four visits in the can; I decided that I need to give the place a rest. I'm still not quite sure if they can put out a consistent product; though I do like the "old school" style poke....when it's on. If one of those "Chi-Poke" places (i.e. San Diego Poke Company, etc....) could get it right, it would be great. The woman who works here is really nice and friendly....and heck, I saw boiled peanuts for sale; I need to bring my own chili pepper water though, and there's still that Ilocano Longanisa I have to try one of these days........one of these days.
Interesting to note that Poke Etc is a chain of (currently) four shops, two in Long Beach and one in Carson. I'm sure we'll see more pop-up here in San Diego.
A few weeks back, I had to head on up to the City of Industry to take care of some business. Because of the Missus work schedule, this was a rare solo trip....in fact, we haven't found much time to head back up to the LA or even the OC very much in the last couple of years as things have been quite busy for us. After taking care of business, I needed to grab a bite to eat. My first thought was the rather new location of Chengdu Taste in Hong Kong Plaza....but man, there was a line outside the place. So I thought about doing what had been brewing in "mi cabeza" for several years. While we lived in the Rowland/Hacienda Heights area for several years, I had never really taken to the place, that is, I never felt that "this is my home". Honolulu is where I'm from and will always be "home". I now feel that San Diego is my home. For some reason, I never felt "at home" in LA, though I have some fond memories of the place, it's where I met the Missus, (well, not really as it was on a flight, She on Her way back to LA, me headed to Fort Smith Arkansas) where we got married and initially settled down.
Anyway, I decided to head to Puente Hills Mall.
Yes, strange, I know. One of the really funny things was; the first time I passed Puente Hills Mall was at night and I instantly recognized it....it was Lone Pine Mall in Back to the Future...that Robinson's May was still there back then. These days, the mall seems even more run down and seedy than it did then. Especially the Food Court.
The Missus sent me a text asking me where I was eating. When I told Her She replied "WHAT! You can do better than that!" Which is totally true. And yet, there's a story behind this. You see, the first L&L Hawaiian Barbecue outside of Hawaii opened in this mall. No big deal now....but for an ex-pat Kama'aina back in 1999-2000 it meant a lot. Back then, L&L served up a decent plate lunch....... And for a homesick local boy, it was just down the street. So now, all these years later, I decided to see what was going on here.
Back when they first opened here, I knew the owners....I wish I could remember their names, but they really worked hard to keep up the quality. I don't think they own the place anymore. It looks a bit run down....but so does the entire food court. I decided to go with a mini locomoco. This was actually the first one of the year!
There were two things positive about this loco; the egg which was nicely sunny-side up and the mac salad, which wasn't messed with too much; had the perfect amount of mayo and was ice cold. Other than that, this wasn't very good. The gravy was pasty and had no flavor, the rice was dry, some of which was hard. Worse of all was the train wreck called a hamburger patty, which was some leathery substance that I took a bite of, then put to the side. Also....no Tabasco.....
If I recall, in his spiel; Eddie Flores talks about franchisees having to come to Hawaii to learn about food prep and the "Aloha Spirit". Maybe they do....but it looks like it's forgotten about fairly quickly. I don't think there's any quality control, nor standards of service as I was treated like that hamburger patty. In some ways this was good. I now have closure and have no reason ever to return.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue 1600 S Azusa Avenue City of Industry, CA 91748
This visit had me wondering, what happened to some of those places we always used to visit when we lived here. We know about places like Chicken Box, Hong Kong Fishball House, Donut King, Yi Mei Deli, Shau Mei, and TS Emporium. But there were others I had in mind, so I decided to take a trip to some of the more obscure places. I did notice that the old Albertson's is now 168 Market.....which means that there isn't a "western" supermarket in this strip of Colima Road! Taiwan Deli is still there, but it looks like the menu is some pseudo Taiwanese-Sichuan mash-up?
It was nice to see Hacienda Village Meats is still there....we used to stop by for various meats and the Missus loved the variety of Italian drinks/sodas. In the same strip mall is what used to be the Missus favorite dried beef stop, which is still there.
It's winter in April! At least that's what it felt like last night. A couple more revisits for your consideration.
777 Noodle House:
Another weekend, another list to take of. And another stop for a noodle soup breakfast. It seems like I drop by here every couple of months. And while Ly Heng surely tops this place in terms of Pho/Hu Tieu Nam Vang, I still like the folks working here. They are so nice and friendly.....they still call me "sir" after all these years. Looking at the dining room it struck me that 777 is just one of those places that looked worn since the day they opened.
On this day, I had my sights set on the Pork Intestine Egg Noodle Soup. Strange, but I think it's gotten better over the years, at least I believe better than the first time I had it. Or perhaps my tastes have changed. The noodles were perfect on this day a wonderful counter point to the blanched bean sprouts. The broth wasn't too salty, slightly porky, and had taken on some of the flavor from the intestine.
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Island Style Café:
So I got in my loco moco fix. It kind of happened by accident. I was going to lunch with Calvin and Deanna.....due to the rainy weather, pho sounded like a good choice....but they wanted "something different". It really doesn't get much different, even in terms of loco moco's, than the Kaloko Moco.
I thought this was better than the one I had last time, though the easy over eggs were style a bit over cooked. The crepe is such an oddity, but it just goes well with this loco....... The burger was better than what I had before and the gravy wasn't too salty...and heck; there's even some veggies! Check out the carrots! Ha!
Deanna, who is from the Midwest really wasn't ready for this, so she got the teri beef and Korean chicken....she loved the mac salad here, so maybe there's hope for her.
Island Style Cafe 5950 Santo Road San Diego, CA 92124
When I started putting together The Big List, there were quite a few instances where I wondered what was going on with places that were still around all these years later. I first posted on L&L in the College area back in May of 2005 and a second with the "Are You Loco" comparison that September. So I thought, ten years is a good long time....and even though L&L is not my first choice for Plate Lunch (let's not go into that Hawaiian BBQ versus Plate Lunch stuff....plate lunch came first....Hawaiian Barbecue is a branding/marketing strategy), I thought it was about time. Also for this one, I broke out the "Rubio Scale", created by James Rubio of Big Island Grinds, who measures each item on the loco moco and assigns an aggregate based on this....so no, this won't be like one of those ramen things on that "Four lettered site" that says, "the noodles were fantastic, but the soup was just okay so I give it one star...." Which will always lead to the question; "does that mean if the broth was fantastic and the noodles fantastic, the best this place could do is two stars on a four star scale?"
So, it's been over a decade. Can you imagine how many starving students this location of L&L has served? On the downside; can you imagine how many folks think that this is the best that Hawaii has to offer on a plate?
If my recent visit is any indication, they'll be serving many more classes of SDSU students.
The tables are a bit more sticky than I recalled and as to be expected, the folks here....both in the front and the kitchen can't really pronounce the dishes correctly....stuff like musubi and katsu sounds kind of odd...and to be honest, a bit painful.
But lets get down to the Loco Moco - which is now $8.99, over 9 bucks with tax. Yikes, that's over 40% more than what it used to be. It has now reached the level of, "this better be good".
And let's get it on with the Rubio scale shall we?
#1 - Burger:
Good lord, preformed and cooked to death. Lacking in seasoning. Like eating gritty bits of shoe leather....still, it was barely edible. Thank god for the gravy...well, maybe not.
Not a good sign.
This actually saved the loco as it was easy-over. I know, everyone is afraid of eating eggs out nowadays. But this one was right. There could have been crisp edges and some browning, but this was ok.
Seems like it was undercooked and sitting for a while. Average.
Good lord, we sent Old Betsy to the glue factory. The texture was not to my liking...too gooey/gluey, no beefy flavor, glue like texture. It was nothing without Tabasco.....
Of course we have to attend to the Mac Salad. This one was put together fine....all the minimum requirements and it was nice and cold. Lack of salt was an issue, but it was ok.
So we have a 10 out of 25....perhaps this is the state of Hawaiian Barbecue loco mocos these days. After all, I think they "jumped the shark" years ago.
Still, it had been quite a few years and I had to find out for myself.
A small part of me wonders how the location in Puente Hills Mall fares. It was the first location on the mainland and was just a couple of miles from where we lived way back when. It was pretty good...they brought in a bunch of cooks from HNL to get them started and the folks there were really nice.......maybe it's better that I not know.....
L&L's Hawaiian BBQ Campus Plaza 6083 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite 5B-1 San Diego, CA 92115
It took us 21 hours to get back to San Diego. The next morning it was time to restock. Among the stops was Nijiya. I was shocked to see truffles in the produce case. I probably shouldn't be surprised as over the years Nijiya has had seasonal items like fresh chanterelles.
So no, that's not a turd. It's not super fragrant, not like what we came across in France. It was 8 bucks for something that works grated on the microplane over eggs.
Which gave me the idea of doing a locomoco....but it couldn't be just any loco....
Sooooo.....long story short, ground wagyu from Bristol Farms, I have frozen veal stock in the freezer, dried porcini in the cabinet, shallots on the counter.
And all those basic skills everyone who cooks should have; how to cook an egg, how to make a burger, and how to make a simple pan sauce. Shave truffle on egg and...say no more.....
So it was time to "go loco, or go home"! Or maybe....go take a nap?
While Leilani's might be a bit more spiffed up from what I recall; it's still that tiny shop....truly a café. I'd attempted visiting one time before, but the place seems to be doing a nice amount of business. However, on this rainy weekend morning. One in which I sorely missed a loco, there was room for me....and my Hilo Loco:
For some reason; I think the Hilo Loco is better than I recalled. Perhaps time has made the heart grow fonder....but having time between these will make sure my heart doesn't stop mid-beat.
The rice was nice (how's that for a rhyme), nice pieces of Portuguese Sausage give it enough spice and mild heart, making it even more hearty. The gravy is by the book; no complaints here. The hamburger patty is still a bit overworked, too lean, and tough for me.
The eggs....well, while I'd have loved some crisp edges....I'm not going to complain when oozy yolk is staring me in the face.
Leilani has carved out a nice little niche for herself. She even has a shop next door to this cozy little cafe. It's good to know that the Hilo Loco....well...is still a Hilo Loco.
Leilani's Cafe 5109 Cass St San Diego, CA 92109 Open Daily 7am-3pm
I guess it's strange that I go to a "food court" when I want my Tonkatsu fix.
But for under nine bucks, this tonkatsu is a favorite of mine in San Diego.......
Crisp, usually moist, love that mashed potato salad.
Kayaba 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd Ste 119 - In the Mitsuwa Marketplace San Diego, CA 92111
The High Dive:
So, the Missus has become a big fan of the Tap Hunter app. I guess She's now an offical Beer Geek. Anyway, there are places that are real good at keeping Tap Hunter up to date and places that are kind of blase'.....Common Theory, I'm looking at you. For all its short-comings, mainly food-related, The High Dive seems to do a good job keeping things updated. Recently, when the Missus was busy with work, She noticed that one of our favorite beers, La Fin du Monde was on tap. I was ordered to head on down and report back post-haste.
And of course, when I arrived, it was there, poised and ready. There's some flavors with "La Fin" that we enjoy, a mild fruit, with flavors that seem like clove and other spices, which make it fine match with spicy food for us. The flavors seem to go really well with anything I make with ghost peppers, strange as that may seem.
This draft version seemed a bit lighter without the spice notes. Maybe for the first time, I preferred the bottle to the tap....weird.
I Buffalo Wings were adequate and by the book. Nothing to make them stand out, but no complaints.
I thought it was a bit too heavy in the sour end and the wings were fried way past well done, but that would be nitpicking.
High Dive Bar and Grill 1801 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92110
Getting my "loco fix" at Island Style Cafe:
It was time for my bi-annual locomoco fix......well, strangely, it would be the first "loco" I had this year. I've got some catching up to do! Anyway, I went with the Kaloko Loco at Island Style Cafe. A rather unconventional Loco Moco; usually I'm not a fan of fried rice for my loco and this one even has a crepe, but it all seems to work out for me.
Like my good FOY CAB says, there's an interesting, yet complimentary interplay of sweet with savory going on that I enjoy. The eggs were overcooked for "over-easy" on this visit and I've kind of gotten used to jasmine rice so the calrose got my attention....I gotta head back home for an attitude adjustment soon! I think the burger here is still too tough and lean, but that's nit-picking as this is still my favorite loco moco in San Diego.
Island Style Cafe 5950 Santo Road San Diego, CA 92124
About a week-and-a-half ago, I read that Fathom Bistro would start serving brunch, which usually wouldn't mean more than a glance. Except that I quickly noticed "loco moco" in that post for Eater San Diego. You know me; I'm always looking to add to my loco moco collection. I quickly sent Candice a message asking if having a loco moco here would be worth my while?
Which is how I ended up down on Shelter Island Drive on an overcast Sunday morning.
I think the location is really great, original, and quirky, as it's located on a pier, which on this morning was packed to the gills (no pun intended) with folks fishing.
Man, you really can't beat the view; which was really great even on an overcast morning.
There's an actual bait and tackle shop on one side of the building.....and it's a bit of a stretch to call this a building. The kitchen look as large as the dining area, which look like it somehow holds about 20. There are a couple of tables out front as well. I loved the collection of vintage National Geographics which took me back to elementary school.
Fathom has a nice variety of beers; but that's to be assumed with Dennis Borlek, formerly of Hamilton's and Monkey Paw in charge. The brunch menu is tight, basically five items, but it instantly earned my affection. In addition to a loco moco, they feature Eggs, Spam, and rice.
We started things with the Beignets.
It's fried dough, with powdered sugar, and chocolate sauce.......'nuff said.
We also got the Italian Sausage Biscuits and Gravy.
Truly, the best Country Gravy I've had in a while. The abundant chunks of house made Italian sausage added a nice mild spice and tons of flavor to the wonderful tongue (and belly) coating gravy. The only problem with this dish were the bisquits which were very hard hockey pucks. But hey, it's only the second day they've been open for brunch. Hopefully, they'll straighten this out. I instantly knew why I heard the word "hangover" bandied about in the dining room.
Well, since Candice knows everybody, Dennis came over to chat. Dennis is quite a character, very friendly, witty, funny, with a ton of stories to boot.
Which brings us to the loco moco. I originally ordered it with straight up and traditional beef brown gravy, but Dennis talked us into getting it "half-and-half" with half beef gravy, the other half Japanese Curry. At first I was kind of doubtful, but hey after having the Kaloko Moco who am I to criticize?
First off, the rice was perfect. The Japanese curry tasted like it should, though a bit runny. The beef gravy was totally by the book, solid in flavor and seasoning. The hamburger patty had a nice char , nicely seasoned, and was still moist. There was one problem with this for me. You can tell, can't you? The only way you'll get eggs here are scrambled.....and it's kind of painful calling this a loco moco without an easy over egg. Dennis told me that the eggs are pre-prepped to minimize stress on the kitchen. I'm hoping everything gets squared away and they start doing eggs to order.
Dennis mentioned adding Spam musubis to the menu. I mentioned Portuguese Sausage and he said it would be a logical progression since this was Point Loma and all. He also said it would be made inhouse. Now if that happens, I'll be sure to get there early! Because as time passed, more of those "hats and 'tats" folks started drifting in for their Sunday hangover remedy.
Next time you're fishing on the pier and get the munchies and perhaps a bit thirsty, Fathom is the perfect spot. Heck, the evening view of downtown San Diego must be pretty good as well.
Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle 1776 Shelter Island Dr. (On the pier) San Diego, CA 92106
Brunch served from 10am Saturday and Sunday only.
You know, it's kind of sad that I really never come down here and tend to associate the area with Humphries and tourists. There's quite a bit to see, like the Tunaman Memorial.
And other public art......
Now with Fathom, there's a better reason to explore the area.
Here's one that I heard about a while back, but just didn't have a chance to visit until recently.
The location can be a bit challenging; off of Mission Gorge Road, head east on Mission Gorge Place in sort of a business park area. Once you go down Mission Gorge Place a bit you can't miss the sign....unless it's not out. Then it just looks like one of hundreds of business strewn around the area.
The interior is interesting, though kind of cold, looking more like an Hawaiian themed bar serving food, than an actual restaurant. Here's where I noticed some interesting things. A decent beer selection, but nothing on tap.
The really nice gal told me to sit anywhere I wanted. Menus are simple take-out type pamphlets. Here's the next observation, I couldn't find anything fried on the menu, which might not be a bad thing, so I'm thinking this place doesn't have a fryer. Lot's of fusion-hip type of things like sliders, guava BBQ wings, "street" tacos, and nachos, along with tuna melts, BLTs, and smattering of plate lunch type items under "entrees".
I went straight for the artery and ordered the Loco Moco ($9.49), to add to my loco moco collection.
Though it doesn't look it, this was a good amount of food.
Let's start with the eggs, which were over-cooked....I do love my runny yolk. I fully understand how folks can be with runny yolks, but places who serve eggs that way will usually ask me how I want my eggs. Which is over easy, with a little char on the edges.
The burger looked real good, but noticing how it had been grilled, I could tell it was going to be pretty tough, which it was. The flavor was decent though.
I thought the gravy was kind of odd. First, it was runny and thin, almost like a bisque. Second, a flavoring, like French onion soup mix over-powered the whole thing and there was a bit of a metallic-sour finish to it.
The one saving grace and a big one at that was the mac salad. It was very simple, but mac salad should be simple. It wasn't over-dressed, the macaroni was cooked to perfection, there was just enough other flavors to keep me interested, and most importantly, it was seasoned well and nicely chilled. This might be my favorite mac salad in San Diego.
So the mac salad and the really nice young lady was enough to get me to return. I looked over the menu when I got home. There was another interesting item on the menu; Huli Huli Chicken. Huli-huli means to "turn-turn". Ernest Morgado, head of Pacific Poultry is credited with creating the "king of fundraisers", at least when I was growing up. You can read more about it in Mr Morgado's obit here. Let me just say, I loved this stuff when I was growing up.....so I was interested in what Chris' Ono Grinds Huli Huli Chicken ($9.49) was like:
Most Huli Huli Chicken recipes I've seen use a good amount of ketchup. Funny thing is; I don't recall it tasting strongly of it.
The sauce on this version was more like a barbecue, not as in "Hawaiian BBQ", but BBQ sauce. It was more of a sticky glaze than a nicely charred huli huli chicken grilled over Kiawe. That doesn't mean it wasn't good. This was pretty decent, perhaps a bit too fruity and sweet, but other than the piece of bone, in the supposedly boneless pile that nearly cracked my teeth, this was decent. The chicken was decently moist and fairly tender. Not bad.
The best thing was, the mac salad was the same as before.
I may not been chasing down this place like I did fund raisers back in the old days, but I think Chris's Ono Grinds has some potential and will probably return one of these days. Mainly because I used to make Guava BBQ Chicken (Hawaiian style BBQ) and he has chicken wings with Guava BBQ sauce.
Even though the feel of the place (and some of the menu) is rather "Mainland - local themed", don't want to use the "H" word, it looks like they are trying to make good food here. This is not another shibai Hawaiian BBQ money grab. That and the nice folks here are enough for another visit.
Chris' Ono Grinds Island Grill 4651 Mission Gorge Place San Diego, CA 92120 Hours: Mon - Sat 11am - 9pm