TLO Restaurant Review: Hawaiian BBQ

Without a doubt, for Vietnamese food, you can’t do better than any of the fab phở joints that line Classen Blvd. But, when you’re looking for primo Korean food, you’re gonna want to head down to Midwest City to one of the best restaurants in town, Hawaiian BBQ, situated in the OK Ko-Mart, 6000 SE 15th.

Located in the back of this small grocery store, the smell of grilled meats just permeate the entire place, my belly rumbling with a low-key hunger as I stood in front of the menu—a simple vinyl banner hanging on the wall—featuring items that mix and mince traditional Korean eats with a Hawaiian lei draped around its ample neck.

Based on friendly recommendations, I knew that I wanted some of their famous Kim Chee Soup ($9.99). But they’ve also got some of the best lunch specials this side of the island; I put in for the Bar-B-Q Short Rib Plate ($12.99) while my gal-pal Jodie, not that big a fan of Korean food, ordered their Teriyaki Chicken ($8.99), not really knowing what to expect.

We sat at the table energetically discussing the absolutely lousy politics of the day as the waiter—doing double duty as a cook—brought us a few cups of cold water from the blessed Ozarka machine behind us. As we sipped the purified water, that heavenly aroma interrupted our conversation as it continued to pour out of the kitchen and bathe us in its savory goodness.

The lunch special to end all lunch specials, the Bar-B-Q Short Rib plate is a new favorite of mine; grilled in its own juices, this is the taste that I taste when I dream of cooked meat. Lovingly tender and carnally devoured, the slick seasoning of spices kept my wanting tongue abuzz, the moist meat constantly drawing out more and more flavor.

But Jodie had an even deeper revelation, wholly falling for the Teriyaki Chicken; as a treat for her, the chef even threw in a helping of Bar-B-Q Chicken for her to try. Gently dropping her chopsticks on the table, she let out a sigh of well-worn relief as her own critical tastes had been deeply satiated for one more day.

The styrofoam plate of various pickled vegetables, including a masterfully made Kim Chee, was quickly dwindling, Hawaiian BBQ’s own version of the chips-and-cheese sauce set-up. And speaking of the Kim Chee, the recommendations regarding the soup were more than right on; if you can handle it, the Kim Chee Soup is a true tongue-enflamer that is as flavorfully hot as it is scalding hot, served in a bubbling cauldron.

Absolutely packed with large slices of cabbage, turnips and green onions swimming in a temperamental red broth of tofu and pork, about half a bowl in, filled from this mighty lunch, I packed it away for a small dinner later that evening. But, you know, even cooled down in the fridge for a few hours, it was still hotter than Hell. Cómpralo ya!

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