First Bite: H & T Burgers @ Don Qujiote

If there’s one thing that’s almost a given in the restaurant industry, it would be that if a start-up burger joint is successful, chances are highly likely it will eventually turn into a chain.

McDonald’s opened its first location by Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California in 1940. Thanks to the enterprising spirit of the late and great Ray Kroc, who became their first franchisee and eventually bought the two brothers out, Today McDonald’s has over 31,000 restaurants in over 119 countries.

Right here on Oahu, Teddy’s, Kua Aina and The Shack are another example of some locally-owned burger joints that have geographically spread their beefy wings. In fact, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers will be opening yet another location on Beretania street near University avenue in June.

Which leads us here today to the brand new H & T Burgers, who, just yesterday, opened a second location in Don Quijote’s “food court” area fronting the store on Kaheka street. This, now being their second location from their original restaurant in Windward Mall in Kaneohe.

Without further ado, let’s check out the menu board…

There’s an open kitchen behind a glass window where you can watch your burger being prepared. Yet I was rather disappointed to find my pet peeve cooking device as their primary tool of the trade, the venerable flat top griddle…

As long as nothing on the menu says “Barbecue” or BBQ” (which there wasn’t), I guess it’s OK. I think you know who I’m refering to in that regard.

I’ve heard H & T are known to make a mighty fine Teriyaki Burger, so I chose just that, going for the Teri-Burger Combo Meal #1…

H& T Burgers – Teri-Burger Combo Meal. $5.97

The prices are certainly reasonable. A Teri-Burger (SIC with the hyphen). Sold ala carte, the Teri-Burger is $3.27, while the fries are $2.25.

Let’s zoom in for a better look…

I know this is more photos than necessary to depict a burger and fries, but what the heck, as it’s all I got to work with, so please bear with me. lol

Nicely colored Teriyaki sauce glazing the burger patty there. The patty shape itself looks like their house-made, not pre-fab. So far, so good.

Let’s peek under the hood…

As expected coming off a flat top griddle (essentially a huge frying “pan”), this patty doesn’t have my much more desirable cross-hatch grilled sear markings. You know how passionate I am about that.

OK, enough looking already. The food’s getting cold, so let’s have a bite…

Well, obviously that’s after more than just one bite, as I was trying to show the center-most part of the burger.

So how is it? The Teri’ sauce wasn’t as sweet as I expected, but more salty. It also wasn’t as pronounced with ginger flavor as I expected and hoped, but more heavy on Garlic. It almost tasted like Chinese style Teriyaki sauce, whatever the Chinese name of that may be. Don’t go thinkin’ Hoisin or Oyster sauce though, as it definitely wasn’t that, God forbid!  Aside of it being a bit too salty for my tastes, overall a pretty good sauce.

Which wouldn’t surprise me as far as the Chinese influence on it, as the owner, Shon Pak, who I briefly met there, is Chinese.

As for the beef burger patty, it has a rather “tight” texture, having me guess (I didn’t ask) they mix the ground beef with bread crumbs, the “old school” way. This has me thinking Diner E, who is a an “old school traditionalist” when it comes to good local kine grindz would really enjoy this burger.

It’s about 3/8″ thick, so I wasn’t expecting any medium-rare parts inside, yet even for that relatively thin profile, it was surprisingly  juicy, with just a little fat run-off as I bit through it.

Moving down to the second floor, the mayo’ mixed with the shredded Iceberg Lettuce under the patty was a bit more heavy-handed than I prefer though…

Yet I can see some folks who will think the opposite, as they like that heavy mayo’ flavor mingling with the robust Teri’ sauce. Whatevahz.

Now to the top and bottom floors, the bun…

Pretty much your standard white bread toasted sesame bun, yet I must note a very fresh one, tasting like they had been baked the same morning. The first thing I checked was to see if they toasted the insides on the griddle though, which would have been bonus points, but nope, it wasn’t. The brown color  on the inside is from the Teri’ sauce.

Summing up their Teri-Burger, I’ll give it 2 SPAM Musubi (good).

This whole time you were probably looking at the fries wondering what the heck that brown stuff is all over it. Which shouldn’t be difficult to figure out, as of course it’s none other than Teriyaki sauce!

When the cashier asked me out of the blue, “Would you like Teri’ sauce on your fries”, I tell you, that was like music to my ears. There is a God after all!  This brought back so many memories of the burgers served at my high school cafeteria, where the ladies would always pour their awesome Teri’ sauce on my fries at my request. Was so ono!

Let’s see if these live up to that fond memory…

Of course this is the same Teri’ sauce used on the burger, so it has the same attributes I mentioned earlier, which once again, is more salty than sweet, and more heavy on garlic than ginger. Not surprisingly, when combined with the “neutral” fries, it tastes even more “Chinese” on the that than it did on the burger. Needless to say, that saltyness had me reaching for my fruit punch to chase it down more often than I normally would.

The fries themselves were deep-fried to “GBD” perfection, and I dare say right on par with McDonald’s in proper doneness, flavor and texture.

With that, unless you’ve already eaten here and are familiar with the sauce, I’d recommend instead of them pouring the Teri’ on your fries, tell them you want it separately in a little container, or at least just poured on the side of the fries, but not over it.

Summing it up, I give H & T’s fries with Teri’ sauce on it 2 SPAM Musubi (good).

Mr. Pak (the owner) told me KHON2’s Manolo Morales was due to visit this place this morning, so when they get that video goes up on their site, I’ll add the link here.

H & T Burgers
Don Quijote
801 Kaheka street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96814

The Tasty Island rating:

(2) Good. I’m glad I tried it.


10 thoughts on “First Bite: H & T Burgers @ Don Qujiote

  1. Lovely dark finish on that burger. Teri-burgers are pretty much a rarity in this part of the world, though the local BKs have been churning out bulgogi burgers and the Japanese burger joints in Little Tokyo serve the stuff.

    Yours looks huge, though (compared to local burgers in this part of the world), and I’m suddenly craving fries!

  2. My old… very old school teri-burger fave was at Campus Center at UH. Remember “splurging” about once a month for the teri-burger, sometimes the bacon mushroom. Of course back then we ka-ka-roached Dad’s Oly’s for the Rainbow (I still refer to the team as the Bows) tailgate parties when cash was short (often when you’re a poor student).

  3. I never had of all thing Chili Fried. I saw on the menu and now I will head to H-T for some with cheese chili fried. My sister had it and not bad. Was that place a Chinese take out before? The Teri Fried got to me also . Now it going be hard for me to decide what to order guese two kinds of frieds.

  4. Was planing to do some shopping at Don Qujiote and after see your photo menu of H-T I want to get chili fried. Had before and really like it of all place first time in California now to try it at H-T.

  5. Kimo, Chili Fries are pretty common nowadays. Zippy’s and The Shack’s has it. Although it’s not something I personally don’t care for. Too heavy. Just ketchup is fine with me, thank you very much.
    Aaron, IIRC, it was indeed a Chinese takeout.
    Ryan, whoah, Olympia Beer eh? There’s another “old school” classic! I wonder what ever happened to them? I’ll have to Google it later. But yeah, something about burgers from the school campus cafeteria… they’re always so ono! I think the drained brain has something to do with it. lol Did you have them pour teri’ sauce on your fries or mac’ salad? I swear, that was always da’ best’est’est!
    Midge, you know, now there’s something I have yet to see here… a Bulgogi Burger! Brilliant! I’ll have to suggest that to the owner of the next Korean BBQ Joint I hit-up. Salamat po for the tip!

  6. As I recall the one in Windward Mall was broke da mouth onolicious! It looks like they left quality control behind. The bun also reminds me of 7-11’s, super thick on the bottom. Now I’m craving for a teri burger, can you say Forty Niners?

  7. Diner A, I think the quality was OK, I’m just not so sure about their Teriyaki sauce recipe. Maybe that was just an “off” batch, because it was a bit too salty and not sweet enough.  I’ll have to try another one on another day to confirm that.
    The bun was really fresh and supple, but I wish they had toasted the insides before assembling it, which makes a big difference!
    Nah, nevah’ mind Forty Niner’s, buss’ out Diner A’s famous BBQ Kalbi Burger!

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