There’s no need to travel 4500 miles — that’s nine and a half hours by air — for a taste of Hawaiian cuisine. Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ, the restaurant, is just around the corridor. Of I-85, that is. The quirky spot offers a myriad of grilled delights, more notably Spam-related ones, in true Hawaiian fashion. Hawaiian fashion, you ask?
You see, Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures from the Pacific who immigrated to the islands as part of the labor force that propagated agricultural plantations to what they are today. Each ethnicity brought with them their unique style of cuisine as well as ingredients that became what Hawaiian cuisine is: the plate. Just like its famous cousins, the Japanese bento box and the American combo, Hawaiian plates consist of scoops of white steamed rice, meat, macaroni salad, and assorted sides which can include fried eggs, kimchi, veggies.
There are two kinds of plates. The regular comes with your choice of meat plus 2 scoops of steamed rice and a scoop macaroni salad or a side of salad; while the mini plate comes with a scoop of steamed rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. I’ve had all the meats and they’re all good, though I highly recommend the Hawaiian BBQ Pork and the BBQ Beef. Both have tender pieces of meat marinated in a teriyaki sauce reminiscent of Korean BBQ. In fact, the BBQ Beef tastes exactly like bulgogi. The slow-roasted, savory Kalua Pork and BBQ Short Ribs that aren’t cloyingly sweet are also good choices. Of course, my trusty back-up, the Spam Moco (consisting of Spam and eggs), are for those times when I crave breakfast at any time of day.
My ultimate favorite here is the Spam Musubi. Think Japanese sushi on steroids: a thick slice of fried Spam drizzled with teriyaki sauce, sandwiched by steamed white rice then wrapped in a nori (dried seaweed) sheet. It’s an awesome snack, which you can eat, on the go. There are three kinds to choose from including Teriyaki Chicken and Teriyaki Beef. They’re all good but believe me when I say the Spam rocks.
Other notables include the fried sweet plantains and the Spam Fried Rice. It’s the ultimate fried rice. The menu at Waikikie is extensive and I guarantee there is something for everyone. Even for the vegetarians. But perhaps the best value on the menu is the Family Combo. This $27 meal for four can be eaten by two people… or those with big appetites like me.
Waikikie Hawaiaan BBQ
2160 Briarcliff Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Phone: 404-638-1115 / 404-638-1116
Closed on Mondays
Open Tuesday through Thursday: 11:00 am to 9:30 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm