Kalihi Eats: Bob's Bar-B-Que

Yesterday for lunch our gang had the “ono’s” for some grilled grindz, so we headed on over to Bob’s Bar-B-Que at the corner of Waikamilo Road and Dillingham Boulevard in Kalihi.

Bob’s often packs a major working-class crowd during the 12 O’clock lunch hour, with most parking stalls taken, so lucky we arrived before the rush and got in and out quickly.

This may appear to be your typical old-school plate lunch stand, but what really sets Bob’s apart isn’t how it looks, but how it SMELLS! As in billows of barbecue smoke wafting out from the exhaust vent, which immediately hit you once you’re in the lot, tempting to draw you in.

So let’s see what they got!

I love when there’s numbered pictures to refer to on a menu board. Every take-out restaurant should get into this practice. Makes deciding and ordering so much easier!

And that’s just their featured items. Behind the window is the main menu board that includes much more, including breakfast. There’s everything from Saimin, to baked beans, to their famous Chocolate Malts. I’ll run through a little more on that later.

Diner “E”, our official Kalihi Eats tour conductor, decided on his usual: the combo plate, this time the (#21) Kalbi Shortribs Combo…

Diner “A” went for the (#6) Mix Plate…

I also was in full “T-Rex mode” and went for the New York Steak…

There’s an area on the right side to sit down and eat….

The area view and property itself isn’t gonna’ attain 5-star status anytime soon, but it serves a functional purpose and is quite good at it. We had to scoot back to the office, so we ordered take-out.

Well, as is usually (or more like always) the case, the menu pictures were much prettier than what was actually served. But hey, this is take-out, not Roy’s or John Dominis, so our only concern was da’ flavah!

Diner “A”‘s order: Plate #6 – Mixed Plate: Kalbi, Teri Beef, Teri Chicken, $7.35 (click view full size image)

Here’s a macro shot of that stack of a barbecue dream…

Flame-grilled Teriyaki Beef, Kalbi Shortribs, and Teriyaki Chicken

Witness the moist teriyaki and kalbi glaze, accentuated by those “papa’a” sear markings for the maximum boost in flavor. You just KNOW this is somethin’ ono! And it was all very moist, tender and cooked to perfection.

And when I said flamin’ grill, it was really flamin’…

Here we have Diner “E”‘s dish…

Diner “E”‘s order: Plate #21 – Kalbi Shortribs Combo with Fried Shrimp/Scallop, $7.60

What impressed me as much as that most excellent Kalbi (which they shared a piece for me to try), was how well the golden crispy shrimp went along with it. You’d think these two heavy-hitters would clash, but they actually go really well together. The shrimp aren’t very big, but the batter makes up for it in volume and clean, crispness…

Looking for excellent barbecued surf ‘n turf on a budget, look no further than Bob’s combo plates. This is the one to order.

Diner “E” also ordered a side of their Giant Fries…

#26 – Giant Fries, $2.75

I LOVE thick-cut fries like this. These are similar to the seasoned wedges at KFC, very tender and moist inside, with a mildly-spiced, crispy thin batter sealing the deal. This and one of their burgers would be fantastic. It also complimented my order quite well.

Speaking of which, here’s my plate..

Diner “P”s order: New York Steak, $7.30

OK, this place is all about grillin’ and BBQ, so you’d think they’d ace a steak, right? Nope. Compared to the other two plates my partners in crime enjoyed, my New York Steak here was rather disappointing. Shucks.

Just looking at it, doesn’t it almost look like it came out of a frying pan, and not off a grill? Where’s the cross-hatched sear markings? Also, the finely chopped garlic, salt and pepper seasoning tasted a bit bitter, thanks to the garlic being burnt by the open flame on the grill.

For presentation, and to check on its doneness, I cut it into bite size pieces, here…

New York Steak

That looks better, but what I think made this order fall short was that this cut of New York Strip tasted and had the texture of a previously-frozen steak, which, if was the case, robbed it of flavor and moisture. Thankfully it was still tender and cooked medium-rare as ordered, but still. While I won’t say it was bad, it wasn’t as great as I had hoped it would be. While I’m not expecting prime beef for just $7.30, just the fact that it was called “New York Steak” at a “Bar-B-Que” joint had my expectations high. Blazin’ Steaks got them beat here.

The front counter had a bin of condiments, including a bottle labeled “steak sauce”. Hoping it was A-1 (my favorite!), it turned out to be just shoyu mixed with Worcestershire sauce. Bleh.

Of course all the orders came with 2 scoops rice and mac’ salad. The mac salad was really good. Creamy, with a just grated carrots and chopped parsley.

Diner “E” also liked his side order of house-made Kim Chee, which he said was flavorful and on the mild side, which he prefers over the really hot stuff. He said they used to include the Kim Chee with the Kalbi combo, but now it’s a side order.

Next time I’m getting the combo plate. That Kalbi is up there with the best I’ve ever had. That, along with those golden crispy panko-crusted shrimp is a winner.

I’ll go over a few items on the take-out menu that stand out…

How about The Big Kahuna, which is a breakfast plate that includes 3 eggs (any style), choice of ham, bacon, links, corned beef hash, Portuguese or Vienna sausage, with 2 scoops rice, 2 slices of toast and 2 pancakes. All that for $6.25. OMG!

Whatever you do, don’t tell the doctor about that one. Actually, don’t even tell doc you eat at Bob’s. It’s our “little” secret. lol

Then there’s the Giant Burger for $3.40, OR, how’s this? The FAT BOY BURGER, which is a Teri Burger with fried egg on it. Whoah!

Other feature barbecue plates included Baby Back Pork Ribs, Polish Sausage (with Bob’s Baked Beans), Hamburger Steak, Loco Moco, Grilled Saba and BBQ Pork Chops, and that’s still just half of it.

Bob’s Bar-B-Que also offers Picnic Packs which include equal portions of Kalbi Shortribs, Teriyaki Beef and Teriyaki or Hibachi Chicken in packs based on people count, which amounts to $5.50 per person.

Bob’s also does catering, including all their favorites and then some. It’s quite a list, and looks pretty much within the ballpark on prices.

Here you can see they’re on the opposite corner of those Golden Arch guys…

Bob’s Bar-B-Que is located at 1366 Dillingham Blvd., on the opposing corner of McDonald’s and Midas.

Bob’s Bar-B-Que
1366 Dillingham Blvd (at Waikamilo Rd.)
Tel. 808-842-3663
Fax. 808-842-3662
6am to 10pm Monday-Thursday, 6am to 11pm Friday & Saturday, 7am to 10pm Sunday.

The Tasty Island Rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Note: This is a combined rating of Diner “A”‘s mixed plate, which he gave 4 SPAM Musubi, Diner “E”‘s plate, which was given 3 SPAM Musubi, and my plate, which was given 1 SPAM Musubi.

Related links:
Bob’s Bar-B-Que – ‘Ono Kine Grindz review
Bob’s Bar-B-Que features tasty grinds at low prices – Honolulu Advertiser review


15 thoughts on “Kalihi Eats: Bob's Bar-B-Que

  1. Why does my stomach growl every time I read your blog?

    You’re right — That steak doesn’t look grilled. The other item pictured, however, looked mouth-watering ono!

  2. Pomai,

    I love Bob’s. I’ve been going there for years. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to stick to the barbecue and the teri burgers….oh yeah, and the kalua pig sandwich is pretty good too.

  3. Every time I go down to the DMV I always want to give that place a shot but get overrule. I agree with the whole number system thing. A lot of Asian places use that system because it makes things alot easier. Thanks for the write up, I’m way interested now

  4. I’m not in that area too often, but that sign is hard to miss even so!

    Perhaps I need to give this place a shot for lunch one day.

  5. Keep up your fine work!!!! I totally look forward to all your new episodes here in NYC!!! Mahalo and Aloha-cant wait for next visit!!

  6. A lot of places nowadays serve New York Steak and as you said, it’s very disappointing as majority of the places serve previously frozen steaks. If you get a chance, try “Spots” just down the road across of the DMV. I really like theirs. Very tasty and tender. I think they base theirs in some kind of butter sauce while grilling. According the the guy that works in the front, there’s isn’t frozen, but fresh New York Steak.

  7. Lance, I know where SPOTS is. Thanks for the tip! Any recommendation on where to get a great steak is always welcome!

    Reid, as I wrote, next time I’m going for the Kal Bi combo plate Diner “E” ordered. That was da’ winnah’ right there!

  8. Used to go there as a kid all the time. I’d hit Legionnaire’s across the street above the Midas, load up on my D&D books… then to Bob’s for some kalbi and malts.

  9. Wow, I used to go to bobs, (or taco bell when we didn’t have any money) on the way home from Farrington HS back in the early eighties. Good to see that at least some places are able to stave off the big chains.

    Now living in Washington State, and the food is one of the biggest things I miss from Hawaii. Thanks for the review.

  10. Pingback: papa john s menu

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