Kaneohe Eats: Bob Barr's Smokin' Bob Barr-B-Q

A Chuckwagon prop atop the roof of Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q on Kahuhipa street in Kaneohe

YEEEE-HAAAAWWWWWWW! What ya’ doin’ there, varmint?! This ain’t one of them there carnival rides, ya’ dog’gon scallywag!

O.K., alright, I better stop right here, before I get myself into trouble actin’ like I can tawk’ in them, there cowboy lingo. Yet, you gotta’ admit, just lookin’ at that chuckwagon prop makes you wanna’ yell that out loud. I mean, common’, the scallywag’s got a cookin’ spoon in one hand, a whip in the other, plus a G-pimped ride all tricked out with a convertible top, oversized “rims”‘ and pots ‘n pans bling-bling. Tell me that wouldn’t make you wanna’ yell, “Yeeeeee-haaaawww!!”. Ah, that felt good.

Everyone who lives or frequents Kaneohe is familiar with Kahuhipa street, an industrial-zoned corridor that includes notable businesses such as a Cutter car dealership, a Harley Davidson/import motorcycle dealership (is it still Domenico’s?), Nanko Fishing Supply (still there!), Hardware Hawaii, City Mill, Koa Pancake House, Chun’s Korean Bar-B-Q House… wait, say what? Partner, did you say BARBECUE?

Well, YEEEEE-HAAAAWWWWW! Now we got some o’ them there good ‘ole American barbecue right across the street at Smokin’ Bob’s! Yes sir’ee, the Muffler Man, also formerly known as “Dirty Bob” is back at it again, putting his welding torch aside (again), yet staying in the heat with his newly resurrected restaurant aptly named Bob Barr’s Smokin Bob Barr-B-Q. This restaurant was in operation once before back in the late 90’s under the same name, but then it closed (for reasons I didn’t have a chance to ask about),which then taking its place were a few Mexican concepts that came and gone as well.

So Bob Barr’s Smokin Bob Barr-B-Q has returned, opening in August 2008, this time around with a spiffy new and modern smoking pit, and a revitalized, yet back-to-basics menu.

As you see in the first photo, you can’t miss Smokin’ Bob’s place as you drive or walk down Kahuhipa street, with its whimsical, out-of-the-ordinary, screaming for attention props that adorn the outside of this casual open-air eatery…

Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q – 46-132 Kahuhipa st. Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744

Waddaya’ say there Partner? Let’s go inside and take a look (hopefully there ain’t gonna’ be none of them dammmed Yankeez in there)…

This is pretty much the gist of the joint (say there partner, you sho’ you ain’t no dammned yankee, tawkin’ like that?). As you see, there’s two family style bench tables to the right…

I wonder if the metal frame those benches are made out of are recycled muffler pipes? Don’t they look like it? If they are, that is WAY cool. (<—dammmned yankee!) It looks like each bench could accommodate up to 12 people… or two big kanaks stretched out going moi moi after being full from eating too much barbecue. lol Notice there’s the requisite paper towel dispenser to wipe all that greasy, saucy barbecue goodness off yo’ pawz.

If you’re the shy type (real cowboys aint shy!), you can opt for one of these 4-place tables to the left in the corner…

Next to these yellow tables is the centerpiece of the joint, the SMOKER!…

Smokin’ Bob’s baby, the smoking pit

Notice it has caster wheels. I wonder if I asked Bob if he could bring this to my next big party, if he’d be willing? Common’ Bob, I’ll help you push! lol

Pitmaster and lead cook Rene was so kind to come out and open the doors so we could get a peek inside!….

Pitmaster Rene smokin’ some pork ribs

Pork Ribs a’ smokin’

Shoots, I think I accidentally moved my mode dial on my camera to the wrong setting here. Sorry ’bout that. At least you get a visual idea how the pit works and looks inside.

The shelves rotate on a motorized chain pulley system so they can pack plenty of meat and other smokey goodies in there while still being able to retrieve them easily.

You can see the chimney protruding up through the roof, which wafts out billows of delicious-smelling smoke, if smoke could ever smell delicious…

Hey, waddaya’ know, they’ve got REAL cactus up there to validate the faux cactus in front! I bet that’s the most frustrated cactus in the world, as it gets to smell all that meaty-smokey goodness, yet will never ever in its lifetime get to taste any of it. lol Believe me, once you get out of you your car, you can SMELL the smoke. The allure. The TEMPTATION!

For smoking wood, they use none other than Hawaiian Kiawe…

Kiawe (mesquite) smoking logs, stumps, chunks and branches (cute, ‘da cart lol)

The condiment station at a restaurant provides a glimpse of the theme of their cuisine, including those offered at Smokin’ Bob’s…

We’ve got zesty, robust, spicy and HOT… all the essentials for good barbecue grub

To order, you head straight through the inside door here…

See the sign, it says “ORDER HERE”

There isn’t a menu board (yet), so to decide what you want, look over the enlarged printed and laminated menu posted on the open door to the right seen in the photo above.

The only picture of food around was the posted special of the day, which was the “Bob-A-Saurus”…

“Bob-A-Saurus” 1 pound-plus beef rib plate, $19.95

According to the sign next to it, this plate is described as such:

Try our new Fred Flintstone Special $19.95. A giant Bob-A-Saurus TENDER all-beef rib approximately a foot long and approximately 1 pound of beef hanging on it. Served with 3 sides. Bob-A-Saurus Ala Carte, $14.95. No bigger, no better, guaranteed.

~ Smokin’ Bob

The regular menu consists of large, mixed and small plates of smoked barr-b-q goodness, including beef brisket, pork, chicken, cajun sausage and tofu. Yes, tofu. There’s also the same selection of meats and tofu in sandwich and taco or quesadilla form, adding the “Mex” to “Tex”. Or, if you’re the T-Rex type, or perhaps you’ve got a party and want smoked meat on the menu, yet don’t have the time, equipment or knowhow to do it yourself, you can buy just the meat itself by the pound (or 1/4 pound increments up to that), which ranges from about $13 to $15 per pound.

Sides include their signature sauce, cole slaw, mac’ salad (<—dammmned Yankee!), Barr-B-Q Beans, Chili, seasoned fries, Bob’s rice and white rice.

While not currently listed on their menu, also available is that yankee favorite, cornbread…

A pan of cornbread just taken out of the oven

Here’s how the cornbread looks served into an individual serving, with plenny ‘o buttah dressed on top…

Sizzlin D’s fantastic Cornbread

Before we get to our order, let me first introduce you to Smokin’ Bob, who happened to be there at the time of my visit…

Smokin’ Bob Barr, 2/20/09

When Bob’s not angry (j/k!), he’s a really friendly and down-to-earth guy. Talks to you like he knew you for years. He likes to joke around too. I asked if he was Portuguese, as his smoker had a couple of big rooster (the symbol of Portugal) props on it, but he said no, he’s English, German and one other European ethnicity I can’t remember. Well, at least we share the same English and German heritage. As for the roosters, he said they were “Barbecue Roosters” lold

Behind every great man is a great woman, who would be his lovely Korean-American wife, Dahlia, a.k.a. “SIZZLIN’ D”!!!!…

Dahlia “Sizzlin’ D” Barr

I told Sizzlin’ D about my recent chopsticks write-up, and she said in Korea when she grew up, every newborn child was given a pair of solid silver (not stainless steel) chopsticks. She noted that the spoon is used mainly soups, but you can use it for rice, but she said the chopsticks can indeed be used to eat rice too. When I told her about placing the chopsticks to the right of the spoon, she did concur that to be accurate, saying that is very important; never on the left.

Well, now that you seen the place and met the folks, let’s get our Barr-B-Q on, beginning with Diner E’s Smoked Pork and Smoked Chicken mixed plate….

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Chicken and Pork Mixed Plate with Cole Slaw, Smokin’ Bob’s Rice and Beans, $14.99

Diner E enjoyed the entire plate, from top to bottom. Pretty much a happy camper, except he wished had more of the Bob’s rice to go with the abundance of meat piled on the plate. Now that I look at it, I can see how you could easily finish the rice before even getting through half of that mass of barbecue.

Gotta’ say though, I sure like all that BBQ sauce poured over it. Looks so ono! It was ono. Of course!

Next we have Diner A’s Tex Mex selection…

Smokin’ Bob’s Beef Brisket Taco plate with Smokin’ Bob’s Rice and Beans (‘n pickles), $10.99

Drizzled on that smoked beef brisket taco are Avocado sauce, Chipotle Aioli and Pico De Gallo. Speaking of which, Diner A noted he wished there was more of, as what was given wasn’t enough to flavor the abundance of meat beneath it; or at least in taco form like this. There was also too much meat piled on to be able to fold up and actually eat like a taco. Thankfully they gave 2 tortillas, so he was able to effectivelyturn a one taco plate into two by splitting the meat among the two tortillas. Also, he would have preferred if they used flour tortillas if they’re gonna’ serve it soft. I can see that. Corn tortilla’s taste much better when crispy. Still, he was overall satisfied with the entire plate, polishing it clean as he usually does when the food’s good. Diner A’s our “plate polisher”. Burp. lol

Finally, yours truly went with Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork Sandwich…

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork Sandwich complete meal including Cole Slaw, Beans ‘n Pickle, $10.50

Smokin’ Bob and gang also “hooked us up” (we’ll leave it at that) with this “sampler plate”

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork and Smoked Pork Ribs

Let’s zoom into that smoked pork on the left…

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork

While I’m certainly no barbecue expert able to point out the perfect smoke ring, or a food scientist able explain how nitric acid is the reason behind it, I’m pretty sure even you can see just by that photo that this is some darned moist ‘n tender cuts of smoked pork! I just think they could use a little more salt (if they even do use salt), as by itself without any sauce it rather “plain”. I mean, smokey-porky delicious, but it just needs a little flavor from either salt on the crust or from the barbecue sauce. No problem though, as with just a light sprinkle of table salt on it and POW! There it is. Much better. Oh yeah, now we’re talking SMOKED PORK!

Here’s another angle so you can see how the ribs look…

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork & Smoked Pork Ribs

As you can see towards the top right, the meat is fallin’ off the bones tender. Again here though, the rub has little or no salt at all, so you really need to add either BBQ sauce or a little salt to punch out the flavor. Otherwise, excellent as Pork Ribs can get. Also, not over-smoked. Just right.

According to Rene, he was just about out of the Beef Brisket, so we didn’t get to try that, although Diner A did get some for his Taco.

Back to my sandwich, the bread used for the sandwich is a very good quality French Roll. Here’a look inside this monster sandwich…

Man, that’s a lotta’ meat! It was delicious too. You could taste the smoke, but it wasn’t overpowering, while the pork itself was as moist and tender as one could ask.

My only complaint is that by the time I was able to eat it (about a half-hour after it was made), the barbecue sauce had made the bread soggy in the parts where it had soaked in. So here’s a tip: if you order your food to go here and it involves sandwiches, tell them to put the meat and sauce on the side, not in the bun, which I’m sure they’ll be happy to do.

I would also ask for more pickles (or add more at home), as its acidity and distinctively-different flavor profile really improves the balance of the sandwich by countering the intense smokey-meaty flavor of the pork, which would otherwise dominate and be over the top.

Interestingly, my favorite of all the smoked meats I tried on this visit was the chicken, and I’m not one for chicken…

Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Chicken

Just like the smoked pork, the chicken was super moist and tender, yet I think what made the chicken even more delicious was the fat from the skin slowly melting into the meat beneath it. I tell ya’, like chicken buttah’! The Smokin’ Bob’s Barbecue sauce coating it really livened it up as well. Just superb. I highly recommend Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Chicken. Super winnah right there. Make sure you get it with BBQ sauce.

In fact, because their meat’s dry rub is rather saltless (as far as I could tell), I’d recommend getting extra BBQ sauce for all their smoked meat offerings.

Now for the sides, let’s look at the cole slaw…

Smokin’ Bob’s Cole Slaw

It’s a decent slaw, but nothing outstanding or unique. It did taste very fresh and certainly made that day, not no leftover stuff from the day before (or longer than that even!). Tasted like the standard recipe of cabbage, purple cabbage, carrots with a mayo-vingegar-small dash of sugar dressing. Still, even as plain-Jane as their slaw is, it’s still a welcome (and fairly healthy) contrast to the otherwise carniverous affair that is a barbecue joint.

Now the rice ‘n beans…

Smokin’ Bob’s Rice ‘n Beans (‘n pickles)

The rice had pronounced cumin/chili powder flavor to it, with big chunks of stewed tomatoes mixed in. So my guess is that recipe is your typical spanish rice, using canned stewed tomatoes and chili powder as its base flavoring components. I believe the type of rice was your typical calrose medium-grain white variety. It was pretty good, although a bit on the mushy side. They should cut down the cooking time or something so the rice has more bite and separation to it. I dunno. Unless perhaps the one served to Diner A and E was from the bottom of the pot.

Finally the beans, which I’m almost sure are doctored-up canned Van Kampp’s Pork ‘n Beans. I don’t think they’re Bush’s. Like what they do is is simply add barbecue sauce and/or smoked pork into it. Very good though. Was really ono when accompanied as a “chaser” with the smoked pork sandwich I was eating. As for the dill pickles, they ended up in my sandwich. I could have used maybe 4 more to fill the entire length of the sandwich, but I managed to take little bites around with what I had.

Then we had the excellent cornbread, which was unanimously well-received by our entire gang.

Sizzlin’ D’s Cornbread

They’re technically just called conrbread there, yet I named them “Sizzlin’ D’s”, as she’s the one who served me a complimentary slice to try so proudly. Mahalo Sizzlin’ D! So I took back a whole plate’s worth for the gang to try. Everyone noted how the toasty crust was the highly, while the inside had a very good balance of buttery-sweet-salty corn meal flavor to it. What was interesting was that there’s actually kernels of corn mixed into the bread!…

A corn kernel in the center of the cornbread

If I remember correctly (IIRC), the price for the cornbread was $2/slice.

So let’s do a Tasty Island SPAM Musubi ratings round-up.

• Diner A’s Smoked Beef Brisket Taco Plate – 2 SPAM Musubi
• Diner E’s Smoked Pork & Chicken Mixed Plate – 3 SPAM Musubi
• Diner P’s Smoked Pork Sandwich Plate – 3 SPAM Musubi
• Smokin’ Bob’s Smoked Pork & Pork Ribs sampler plate – 3 SPAM Musubi
• Sizzlin’ D’s Cornbread – 4 SPAM Musubi

Averaging that out, we have a solid 3 SPAM Musubi rating for our grindz from Smokin’ Bob’s on this particular visit.

Did I mention that Bob is also a muffler guy? Well he is, having a muffler repair shop right next door that’s a been a fixture on Kahuhipa street ever since the 70’s…

Here’s a better look at that van…

There’s just one thing missing from that set of logo graphics, and that would be “YEEEEEE-HAAAWWWWWW!!!!” emblazoned across the top. lol

What Angry Bob didn’t tell me was that he was contracted by Steven Speilberg to create the “easter egg” Transformer that will be hidden in the Blu-Ray DVD when Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen goes to disc. Seen only here at The Tasty Island, I present to you the newest Autobot, “HEADER-TRON”…

Bob Barr’s Header Man, a.k.a. “Header-Tron” (Transformers Autobot)

Is this not THE COOLEST metal sculpture ever created?!!! That is, eh-hem, Barr-none, the coolest metal sculpture on Oahu. Look out Vance & Hines and Yoshimura, “Header Man” will destroy you! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

All kidding aside, this thing is TALL. Those are real V-8 header pipes, so add that up and you can fathom just how tall it is. Perhaps not “Transformers” tall, but on his way there. If you’re ever in the Kaneohe area, stop by and check it out. This really could become the next big tourist attraction. “Be sure when you visit Oahu to go see Barr’s Header Man statue in Kaneohe”.

You can tell Bob has a love for welding and metal sculpture art as is evident by the various art pieces he has on display back in the restaurant…


Bull saying to himself, “I’m glad I’m up on this wall and not in that smoker” lol

Rooster saying to self, “I’m glad I’m ON the smoker and not IN it”. lol

Rooster B saying to self, “I should ask Mad Bob if he can weld a muffler on my butt and give me a cool paint job with flames”. lol

Adding to the Texan theme…

This skull saying to self, “Looks like I’m tonight’s dinner.”. lol

As for parking, there’s about 5-10? stalls between Bob’s Muffler shop and the adjacent restaurant…

See, if the police eat here, then it’s gotta’ be good!

If the lot’s full, you might be able to find parallel parking along Kahuhipa. I seen a few spaces open during my peak lunch hour visit.

Summing it up, we all enjoyed our smokin’ barbecue lunch from Bob’s, finished off by sizzlin’ D’s most excellent cornbread. The meats were all moist and and tender and smoked to perfection. The only thing worth noting (once again) is that the house-rub for the meats is on the low-sodium side, which has its pros and cons for all the reasons you can figure out for yourself. The portions are huge, yet we feel the prices are a bit high, although that may be justified, as smoking meats is a time-consuming process, which also means burning a lot of fuel (wood). Bob did mention he was redoing his menu, saying shrimp was gonna’ be added, and surely that fantastic cornbread which as of yet isn’t on there. We’ll have to wait and see what he does as far as pricing.

The service and hospitality was superb, with Bob, his lovely wife Sizzlin’ D and Pitmaster/head kitchen cook Rene real friendly folks to talk with, not to mention accommodating with the menu.

So the next time you’re in Kaneohe (or if you live there) and looking for a place to eat that’s unique and different than the usual plate lunch stand, diner or Korean barbecue joint, then head on over to Kahuhipa street for some good ‘ole American style barbecue at Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q… and don’t forget to get the cornbread!…. and make sure to take a picture with “Header Man”!


Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q
46-132 Kahuhipa street
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
Tel. 235-4004
Fax. 235-4007

Menu (current as of 2/09) <—click to download/view PDF (2-page 165k document file)

The Tasty Island SPAM Musubi rating:

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

Related links:
Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q, a closer look – AkuEat.com blog review
Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q – Yelp user reviews
Bob Barr’s Smokin’ Bob Barr-B-Q – Metromix photos
The Barbecue to Beat, Barr None – Star Bulletin review on Bob’s former incarnation of the restaurant in 1996


14 thoughts on “Kaneohe Eats: Bob Barr's Smokin' Bob Barr-B-Q

  1. Erica, as of now, no, only the cornbread (but still get it!). Afterward you can always head right up the street on Kamehameha highway to Deluxe Pastry Shop. Try their Chantilly Eclairs… broke da’ mout! Da’ Bestestest.

  2. Whoa, Nelly…having lived in Kansas City and Dallas (BBQ hotspots) those prices on the menu do seem pretty pricey. The only thing I don’t get is the tofu, though.

  3. The ribs look great. You say they use mesquite / kiawe for smoke? Man, they oughta be using guava instead!

    Prices seem kinda steep but I guess it’s a deal when you get hooked up with a free sampler plate.

  4. Gwyn, The Honolulu Advertiser did a review on the Bob’s, and they said the smoked Tofu was a no-go, as the rub tasted bitter, since it didn’t have any juices from the meat to melt with. I think they should try change the recipe and use a teriyaki-based sauce, as that’s a more fitting flavor for Tofu anyway. Not paprika and cumin, or cajun spices. At least so it doesn’t seem to have worked in this case.

    Donna, wow, they got corn kernels in the cornbread there too, huh? Must be a regional thing. Chicago must be an expensive town to live if the prices there are the same here.

    Kat, I wonder how an American BBQ joint would do in Japan? I’m thinking it would be a HIT!, especially with the younger generation.

    Nate, why would you choose guava over mesquite? I’ve smoked meats with both types, yet never really attempted to try (in a controlled fashion) to distinguish any flavor profile differences the smoke has on the meats between the two. Yet I’m curious!

  5. Eh Pomai,

    to me, mesquite is a sharp smoke, best used for beef. Fruit woods like apple or nutwoods like hickory or pecan are better for pork, IMO. Since there aren’t apple, hickory or oak plantations in Hawaii, getting those woods would be more expensive. But guava is pretty abundant, right?

  6. Nate ‘88, that’s true. While not as much as Hickory, I’d say Mesquite does have a “sharp” and bold smoke, and you have to be careful or you can easily overdo it if you let it go too long or add too much wood. Yet I think it’s more versatile than just for beef if you know how to regulate it properly. It’s what they’ve used for centuries here in Hawaii for making Kalua Pig. I’ll have to compare the two in a Kiawe vs. Guava wood smoke-out the next time I do my Big Island Smoked Meat. Actually though, the Guava wood I currently have access to is from a Strawberry Guava tree, yet the branches seem to have the same look and characteristic through the cut as a standard Guava tree (which we had plenty of at our old house). Should be close enough. One thing for sure, both Kiawe and Guava are tough darned woods to cut. Really hard on the chainsaw. Cut by hand with an axe or hand saw? Forget it! Pass me the McCulloch!

  7. I just want you to know that you do a great job of reviewing restaurants and food product. Your photography gets better with every report. You obvioulsy are a talented cook and food photographer.

    I really enjoy your site. It is frankly the only Hawaii food site worth watching.

    Mucho Mahalo!


  8. I’ve tried the “Bob-A-Saurus” this past sunday for lunch. Found the price went up what’s posted here. At first, looks great, but when I began eating it. Found the meat was mostly fat. Later that night, threw up, not sure how fresh their meat is or the fat got me really bad. take care when trying this dish. other dishes was good. oh, found their Bob Rice was undercook.

  9. bspooner, I don’t know about talented cook or photographer, but I try my best. Mahalo for the kind words!
    Sunday Customer, yikes!
    Kathleen, the “funkadelic” metal art is indeed very impressive! I especially love the Matador. I suppose when you’re a welder with a creative spirit who becomes bored, this is what you do! lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s