“Da’ Tree Monkeys”, a.k.a. Diner A, Diner E and Diner P (Yours Truly), ventured out for lunch this past week into the “deep” part of Kalihi, right across where what was once Kalihi Shopping Center, to this relatively new place named Lili’s “Ono” BBQ.
Oh, and for the record again, always remember “Kalihi is the center of Hawaii’s Food Universe, a.k.a. God’s Country”.
What’s interesting is, the owners are a husband and wife team, whom he’s originally from Western Samoa, while his wife his from South Korea. Where with that, the menu is predominantly Korean, with a flair on Southern American BBQ.
Lili’s is set-up like your typical plate lunch joint, while being very clean and well, new!
I snapped that shot of Lili’s BBQ dining room right after the lunch hour rush this past Thursday, when prior to this, just about every single seat was taken.
I actually wish they would do some sort of Korean-Samoan fusion dishes, which would REALLY be interesting! Such as say, Kim Chee Palusami, Ulu Sundubu Jiigae, Kalbi Paifala and Bibimbap Panipopo (<–I know, right?!!!).
Or better yet, have a Samoan style Budae-Jiigae party! “Eh Cush, I c’oing chrow shum Ulu, an’ den shum konn beef, an ‘den shum kokonut inshide da Budae-Jiigae, CHEEEE-HOOOOO!!!!” LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyways, getting straight to business, Diner E sampled one of Lili’s most popular dishes — as was evident by everyone else in the joint — The Smoke Brisket with Corn Bread plate…
Angle C… oh wait, there is no “Angle C”. lol
Diner A decided to sample Lili’s Bento, opting for the Smoke Brisket Fried Rice “upgrade”…
Next to the Smoke Brisket and Corn Bread plate, also what looked popular based on what everyone in the crowded joint was ordering, was Lili’s Bento.
Which isn’t a surprise being it’s a bargain basement $6, that includes a huge heapin’ pile of Korean style meat and rice.
Meat being three key Korean varieties, including Kalbi, Fish Jun and Meat Jun, piled over a generous helping of white rice, or as Diner A opted for just $1.50 more, their Smoke Brisket Fried Rice. BUYA!
Finally, here’s my version of Lili’s Bento, sticking with the quintessential white rice…
What’s interesting is, I initially wasn’t that hungry when we arrived, however once this bento sat in front of me, my appetite suddenly kicked into “Dude, let’s GRIND!” mode. lol
And? Ono, indeed! I mean, come on now, Meat Jun, Fish Jun and Kalbi, fresh-made, done perfectly, all in one bento box for just $6? Are you kidding me? I POUNDED THAT BOX!
Actually, looking back at the photos, there was an “Angle C” of the Smoke Brisket…
There you see, the BBQ trade terms “Bark”, “Rings”, “Crustification”, “Layers”, “Gristle”, “Buttah'”, “GTFO”, and “Get err’ done, ya’ all!” come to mind. LOL!!!
And an “Angle D”…
You know what would be totally funny is, if I showed you so many different angles of just this one Smoke Brisket plate from Lili’s, that I used up every alphabet and number, having to resort to alpha-numeric sequences of camera angles. You’d be like, “Dude, Pomai, what? You have OCD or what? We’re on “Lili’s Smoke Brisket Plate: angle 10D-20X, OK? I get the point! OK?!” LOL!!!!
Serously though, WOW! Lili’s “Ono” BBQ Smoke Brisket is BROKE DA’ MOUT’ WINNAHZ! After sampling a bite from Diner E’s plate, I was so “J” I didn’t order that myself! And the only reason I didn’t is because A: I had smoked brisket from Whole Foods Kahala just the night prior, and B: as said before, when I initially arrived at Lili’s, I wasn’t really hungry. Yet after sampling it, OMG, I so wanted that whole plate for myself!
The BBQ sauce served with Lili’s BBQ Smoke Brisket pretty much tastes like cheap store-bought bottled stuff, yet it totally works in complimenting the fork-tender, perfectly smoked, fatty, beefy-flavored brisket.
Anyone who reads this blog, knows I know Hawaii style plate lunches. From the main entree, down to the two scoops white rice, down to the one scoop of Mac’ Salad, right on down to the type of plate it’s served on.
Where reverse one notch about the Mac’ Salad, Lili’s is pretty much on point, being perfectly al dente, cool, creamy and very fresh tasting, with no funky sour “action” goin’ on. However, the only thing it could use is seasoning, which it tasted like none was added at all; neither salt nor pepper. Which of course easily remedied at the table.
As important to great Southern American style BBQ meat, is a great side of Corn Bread. And I’m going to say straight-up, this one was totally lacking. It was “dough-ee”, stale, and had as much butter in it as a person in the waiting room at a Jenny Craig clinic, if you catch my drift. So dry and “loose”, no gravy in the WORLD could have saved this Corn Bread. Yet that was part of the charm! Ha!
And with that, if you ever hit Lili’s “Ono” BBQ in Kalihi, do the Smoke Brisket with Corn Bread, Mac Salad, Kim Chee and Rice plate. For just $9.75? Are you kidding me? This plate is EASILY worth $15 or more. Easily.
Oh snap, hang on, I actually do have an “Angle 12-B: 4XD”…
As noted previously, Lili’s “Ono” BBQ is located next door to Mitsu-Ken Okazuya, who recently moved from School Street, way ovah he’ah to North-NORTH King Street…
Mitsu-Ken must also be winnahz, as there was a long line pretty much the entire time we were there (my OCD mind kept going outside to check lol).
Also as noted previously, Lili’s is located right across New City Nissan, formerly Kalihi Shopping Center (where used to stay get Foodland and Kalihi Bowl)…
Lili’s “Ono” BBQ
2300 N. King Street (across New City Nissan; next to Mitsu-Ken Okazuya and First Hawaiian Bank in the adjoining parking lot)
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
Tel. (808) 842-9100
Fax (808) 842-9110
The Tasty Island rating:
(5) Superb. Worthy of repeat visits or purchases. (Broke Da’ Mout’!)
• Lili’s BBQ – Yelp user reviews