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Hukilau
5 Masonic Street/Geary Blvd., SF
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Pretrial hearing at Pig and Whistle
4/13/03

Vardigan

Out front.Aloha.

What I just wrote meant "Hello." As Pavement once sang, "Aloha means hello/and also goodbye/it's in how you inflect." Hukilau's menu suggests a third meaning when it says "Aloha Served Here!" Unless they mean "hello" and "goodbye" are served there. It might mean "good times" or something. I think it is exclamatory.

This all shows you how much I know about Hawaii. I didn't know that SPAM was a common food on the islands either, until we sat down at Hukilau and ordered SPAM Musubi ($2), which is SPAM sushi! Quite a strange thing. I enjoyed it for the novelty, but doubt I'd order it again. According to SPAM's Web site, SPAM is "so good...it's gone." That's the slogan. That wasn't true at our table. We left part of the last hunk uneaten.

Spam sushi!We also had the Hukilau Pupu Platter. Pupus are appetizers. If you want to say "apps," then maybe you call them "pups." We chose three items: Tuna Poke, Big Kahuna Sausage, and Pele's Wings. (Pele is a Hawaiian volcano.) The poke is a big item on the menu, and everyone seemed to be getting it. It's raw tuna tossed in sesame oil and some other stuff. Very tasty, and a nice pile of it. Pele's Wings weren't volcanically hot, but had a nice kick. The sausage was fine.

Hukilau was headed for a solid two- or three-dog rating until the Teriyaki Short Ribs came out. Not good. I don't know what went wrong with these, but I could barely eat them. Judge Turner seemed to feel a little better about them than I did. The meat tasted off, had little flavor, and reminded me of the bad part of a steak, the part you'd leave untouched. It came with macaroni salad (not bad) and some sticky rice, as all the entrees do. Nine bucks for that. Good deal considering the amount of food.

Hukilau also features some wild drinks. I had one, but don't remember what it was. Liked it though. The venue is kind of festive and there's a nice patio where lots of people were drinking. If I went back I'd get the Hamburger Steak, which looked like the most commonly ordered item next to the tuna. It's kind of an open-face burger, with gravy and grilled onions over the top.

Aloha.

That meant "goodbye."

 

McClure

DrinksWow, am I on a tropical island? No? I didn't think so -- it's just Geary and Masonic. It has been ages since I was in Hawaii. 24 years. I was only 12. We dined on roasted pig, some gray mush, and watched the fire dancers. Hukilau didn't have these but they did have a band that night that included a ukulele.

We went SCUBA diving when visiting Hawaii and came across a huge SPAM. Our guide speared it and we brought it back to shore and a master prepared us some fine SPAM rolls with rice and seaweed. Hukilau had a similar treat. While not as fresh as the SPAM we had in Hawaii, it was just as tasty. The menu has variety: fish, quesadillas, burgers, chicken, ribs, wings, nachos, chili cheese fries. We tried items such as teriyaki short ribs ($9), Hukilau chicken/sesame chicken ($7.50), Pele's wings, tuna poke (ahi), and Big Kahuna sausage (all on a platter for $18).

My favorites were the tuna, which was nice, and the SPAM rolls, probably for the novelty and the value, two big rolls for 2 bucks. The sausage was okay. The other items could be better had somewhere else -- say, at a good Chinese restaurant.

They have a full bar with some fancy tropical drinks if that's what you're interested in. There is an outdoor area so maybe you want to grab a cocktail, some SPAM, and enjoy the view of traffic whizzing by.

 

Turner

Pupu!Ah, Hawaiian cuisine. It's everybody's favorite, isn't it? Sure it is. And that's why we oozed into Hukilau like a molten lava flow. By the way, did you know that Jiminy Cricket's voice was Ukulele Ike's? Also, "ukulele" means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian. And I think crickets and fleas are both insects. So, there you go.

Anyhoo, I was all set for poi and Kalua Pig, but they ain't got none of that at Hukilau. Kind of modern island cuisine I guess. Kind of modern Hawaiian BAR cuisine, really. Which is fine. We hit the ground running with Spam sushi. That's right. Big old wedges of grilled Spam and rice wrapped in seaweed. Crazy, but not bad, because, hey, it's Spam. And at two bucks for two big wedges, a cheap meal in itself. I understand Congress is considering anti-Spam legislation, but I sincerely hope it doesn't pass, because Spam is good food. SPiced hAM, you know. We also shared the Pupu Platter, with our three choices of Pele's Wings, Tuna Poke, and Big Kahuna Sausage. Quite frankly, I don't remember the wings...I think they were quite spicy, teriyaki deals. But not as hot as the Big Kahuna Sausage, which sent me into fits of shrieking agony. But then again, as I've said before, some people like that kind of thing. The Tuna Poke, though, was good. If you like sushi, that is. Basically big chunks of raw tuna tossed with sesame oil, onions, and spicy chili something. Good size servings all around there, served in a festive pineapple-shaped wooden pupu platter. Pupu!

Main dishes.For our "main courses" we got the Teriyaki Short Ribs and Hukilau Chicken. A good short rib is a beautiful thing, of course, and the Hukilau Chicken sounded kind of like General Cho's Chicken, so we went for it. Both were kind of disappointing. The short ribs (which I always enjoy at Korean BBQs) were a little tough and not real flavorful, which I believe was from under-marination. That is, not being marinated long enough. So, I don't know...maybe just got a bad batch. The Hukilau Chicken (sesame chicken) was all right, but not spectacular. Sure wasn't no General Cho's! But, again, both dishes were pretty generous portion-wise and came with macaroni salad and rice. A definite meat and starch theme going there. Which suits me, but you vegematarians may need to look elsewhere. Oh, and wait, I see here on the menu they have Kalua Cabbage, which is Hawaiian style roast pork stir fried with cabbage. Why didn't I get that?

So, yeah, kind of unusual chow there, and of course we all love a Tiki Hut and a tropical cocktail with an umbrella in it, so ooze on in there some time.

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