Super Bowl Sunday Grindz of the Day: Kal Bi and da' Zip Pac


Jin Joo – Kal Bi plate, $10

Well, the big game day is finally upon us as we all get ready to watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in Florida. With that, right about now many of you probably already have your grill fired up, and the steaks, ribs, chicken, fish, burgers and dogs all seasoned, marinaded and ready for action.

In Hawaii, next to Teriyaki, Korean Kal Bi is one of the most popular styles of meat folks at home or at the beach like to barbecue (technically to grill). That wonderful marriage of flavors in the marinade between the shoyu, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chili pepper is guaranteed to bring out the best of the beef short ribs. When done right, it’s “Umami” at its finest.

Shown above is an EXCELLENT example of the dish I picked up this past Wednesday at Jin Joo Korean Restaurant in the Waimalu Shopping Center. What separates Jin Joo from many other Korean take-out restaurants is that they use the “Big Bone” short rib, with just one big bone on the end, and the meat butterflied off it into a long strip.

Here at this angle you can kinda’ see better what I’m talking about…

I was actually much more pleased with how Jin Joo’s Kal Bi tasted this time, compared to my last order from here, where I gave it only 2 SPAM Musubi. This time around I give it a very solid 4!

For home-made Kal Bi, if you’re not making it from scratch, I think the best Kal Bi marinade to use is the Man Nani Food Co. brand by Halm’s…

Interestingly it has miso paste in it, which I think is the secret “ingrediment” that gives this sauce extra body and super-savory depth, especially after it caramelizes and sears onto the meat on the hot flame. I swear, even road kill marinaded in this stuff would probably still taste great. Seriously, really good stuff!  Costco sells the big bottle for like $8. Definitely a must-have item in your pantry.

In contrast to the “Big Bone” Kal Bi BBQ beef short ribs from Jin Joo, like I said earlier, most (of the cheaper) take-out Korean Restaurants around the island use standard thin-cut short ribs across the bones. Like they offer here from Dole Cannery BBQ…


Dole Cannery BBQ – Kal Bi plate. $ n/a

In this case, you see they cut each bone section into bite-size pieces. That should make it easier to eat if you’re only using chopsticks.

When it comes to food, Super Bowl parties are usually all about “manly-man” meat, meat and more meat, and there’s no question the “Bento King” of Oahu, the Zip Pac addresses that need from just about every angle…


Zippy’s Zip Pac. $8.10

You got your chicken (fried), your fish (mahimahi, deep-fried in Panko), your beef (teriyaki), your pork (luncheon meat) and of course da’ rice (with Furikake on top). Throw in a takuwan slice for good luck and you’re in it to win it, baby!

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the game today, and remember, don’t drink and drive. Go Saints!

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6 thoughts on “Super Bowl Sunday Grindz of the Day: Kal Bi and da' Zip Pac

  1. I like the zip pac, too. Except for the “well done” fried chicken. Seems like it’s always a little harder than anywhere else.

  2. Bourbon Chili! wuuuuuh… sounds good, John.

    I did Costco…. grilled some of their ribeyes, and we did those big crab legs too. Pretty good stuff. Muy ex$pen$ivo…

    Gotta love Kal Bi ribs though. Everybody loves them.

  3. Pomai, next time I’m in town will have to try Jin Joo’s kal-bi plate. Gosh, kind of reminds me of the way Kim Chee II does their kal-bi. Will definitely have to pick up a couple bottles of Halm’s Barbeque Sauce. Same Halms that puts out kim chee? Yes? Will definitely have to try. Mahalo plenty Pomai!

  4. Paki, yes Halm’s is one of the most widely-distributed brands of Kim Chee in the islands, which I find acceptable, yet not my favorite. On the other hand, their ManNani Food Co. brand Kal Bi/BBQ Sauce is by far up there with the best, if not the best!

    Marcus and John, indeed that Bourbon Chili sounds tender-deep-savory good! Care to share the recipe (without leaving out secrets!)?
    Jayz, haven’t had a Zip Pac yet that was done poorly. Better not for the “premium” price we’re paying!

    Their (Y. Hata sourced) batter IS by nature on the crisp and stiff side. Yet (for what minimal times I do eat it) I’ve NEVER had a Zippy’s fried chicken piece that was dried out on the inside. Although I’m sure it happens from time to time.

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