Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Kahuna's BBQ & Catering

Big Kahuna's BBQ & Catering is located on N Lombard St in Portland, Oregon. They serve up award-winning BBQ meats and their take on some Hawaiian-themed meats such as huli chicken and kalua pig.

Some of their many BBQ awards
This is avery small place, with maybe three tables total on the premises. It felt a little cramped, with relatively plain white walls (they did at least put some of their awards up, though).

Menu (side 1)
Menu (side 2)
I ordered their pulled pork sandwich with mac salad ($6.75). I also got their spicy BBQ sauce on the side.

Pulled pork sandwich w/mac salad and spicy BBQ sauce
First, the positives. The spicy BBQ sauce is off-the-hook delicious. It's basically a KC-style sauce, with brown sugar and molasses. There is a pleasant mild kick to this one (although, depending on your own taste buds, it may be too spicy or too mild). Loved the controlled combinations of sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy. Also, Big Kahuna's knows how to smoke their meats. The pulled pork was tender and smoky.

However, I had two major concerns. First, I don't like it when food establishments try to say or imply "pulled pork" and "kalua pig" are the same thing. It's not. Kalua pig is traditionally a combination of smoking and slow-roasting a whole pig (or just a pork butt) that is liberally covered with Hawaiian sea salt. The smoking comes from the use of coals as direct (some hot coals are placed in the pig carcass itself) and indirect heat (heat rises from more coals through the banana leaves). But the pig also roasts because the fat breaks down and the meat releases amazing juices for the entire pig to stew in. This makes for an absolutely amazing, tender, juicy, salty pig that can easily shred. So in one respect, it is pulled pork. But it's also more than that.

Big Kahuna's does smoked pulled pork very well. It does NOT do kalua pig.

Finally, their macaroni salad was one of the worst mac salads I've had. At least the mac salad was cold, but heck man, there was not a lot of flavor here. They also used two different types of elbow macaroni -- all slightly overcooked -- which puzzled me. It needed more color (shredded carrots, at the very least) and more peppery bite. Extremely disappointing and really no authenticity to this whatsoever.

Average service overall...nothing to really write home about.

If you're seeking good BBQ, this is a respectable place to go. But I visited this place because they passed themselves off as a place that also does Hawaiian BBQ. In that regard, a total epic fail. I will give Big Kahuna's points for wonderful smoked pulled pork and amazing BBQ sauce. But they are not even close to a "big kahuna" when it comes to Hawaiian BBQ. 2/10

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