On Monday, I had to take my youngest to town for music lessons. It's been a weekly thing this summer and we also do errands and eat lunch out. Unfortunately, I've been forgetting to bring the camera...missed opportunities include: Mini Garden, Andy's (in Manoa), CPK, and a whole bunch of other places :(
This time, I remembered the camera (Yay!). We went to Fisher's to pick up school supplies and started to think about lunch. It was still early, about 11:30-ish, so we could still beat the lunch crowd. The Ward area had quite a bit of possibilities but we ended up going to Kulia Grill, which is a favorite of ours. If you're not familiar with it, it's located in the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kakaako, part of the University of Hawaii. Parking is always a concern there. When we first started going there, we would go to the UH lot and inform the guard that we would be going to Kulia Grill and most times, the reply would be, "OK, normally we charge but it's OK", and we would get to park free. I guess visitors are supposed to be charged a parking fee. Guess it depends on the guard on duty...and how he feels... Or...we would park at the lot by the Children's Discovery Center, next to the Kakaako Waterfront Park but we've heard people have gotten ticketed when it looks like they're heading to the school. These days, we make a point to go early and we usually find metered parking right in front of the school.
Kulia Grill is great. It's clean, attractive and the food is good. And best of all, it's affordable. They usually have an assortment of plates available that day and you can get a mini deal for $5 that includes a drink. The first couple of times, I used to order the plates and was never disappointed...and the plates are a step above regular plate lunch stuff. They also have cold items like sandwiches, salads, desserts, etc. Across on the other side, they were offering pizza. These days, I focus in on the offerings located right in front...the burgers and stuff... I've heard so much about their burgers...I've read that the hamburgers are from North Shore Cattle Company grass-fed beef. In Hawaii Diner's Burger Wars 2005, their cheeseburger took first place. Here's an article from Wanda Adams of the Honolulu Star Bulletin with a "good" rating for Kulia Grill. The only concern is that they only make a few burgers at a time so if it's not fresh, it could have been sitting for awhile. The last time I went, the burger was awesome (fresh). This time, it was OK but it was obvious that it had been sitting awhile as it was on the cold side and a little dried out. I got a regular hamburger (no cheese, gotta watch the cholesterol, right?) for $4. And the best part that I love, they have fixings on the side to help yourself to (YAY!). You can pump out ketchup, mustard and mayo to your heart's delight. A container of relish is provided. And...they have bowls of beautiful greenleaf lettuce, none of that wilty stuff. Big slices of tomato, I think they were 3-4 inches wide at least. And, red onion slices! Of course, I went double on everything (veggies are healthy!). This created a hefty sandwich! And can't forget the fries. These were pretty good...they were the coated type, tasty and crispy but not overdone. My wife opted for the home-made potato chips...thick, crunchy, kind of like the kettle type, lightly seasoned (salt & parsley?). Both fries and chips are priced at $1.50.
Around 12, the staff and students start to trickle in. If you're early, you'll see a lot of senior citizens that come by for the food. Some of the business workers nearby also frequent this cafeteria. The slowdown usually occurs at the cashier, so there might be a line there. Go early for good parking!
Kulia Grill, @the John A. Burns School of Medicine, 651 Ilalo St., Kaka'ako