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FoodZealot

Big Jake's Island BBQ

6 posts in this topic

Due to fifi's comments the Big Island recs sought thread, I felt compelled to seek out Big Jake's Island BBQ. They have indeed moved to the Honaunau area, south of Kailua-Kona. It's very easy to find - there's one highway around the entire island, and he's at mile marker 106, which is the small green sign on the left of this picture.

front.jpg

Right out front is his rig on a trailer, which he uses to smoke everything. Is K is for Klose?

smoker.jpg

As is my usual M.O., I tried to order a little of everything. Clockwise from top left, smoked chicken sandwich, smoked pork plate, brisket plate, and half a rack of baby back ribs. Among the sides were cole slaw with raisins, a mustardy potato salad, and beans. They only offer one sauce, which is a sweet, ketchup based sauce. Tabasco is available to add on.

overview.jpg

Here is a close-up of the brisket, showing the smoke ring and the bed of steamed white rice underneath, which would be a concession to the locals, who expect rice on any plate.

brisket.jpg

Another close-up, but this is of the pork.

pork.jpg

And the last close-up of a baby back rib.

rib.jpg

Short version of the review: If you're in the area, and you're looking for something other than plate lunch, it's worth checking out. Compared to other restaurants on that side of the island, they offer enjoyable food at a fair price.

BBQ fanatic version of the review: fifi's enthusiastic praise would be hard to live up to, even if you were trying. And please understand that I don't doubt what fifi experienced at all. But I think the pictures convey that something has changed in his method, because the smoke ring ranges from normal (brisket) to undetectable (ribs & chicken). In fairness to the restaurant, I could have been there on an off day (he had business in town, and it was meat that had been cooked the day or night before).

What follows is not so much a litany, but a rundown of all the items I tasted. The brisket was very tender, but seemed to have been finished off in their Winston steamer/oven (like an Alto-Shaam) which doesn't allow for as much shrinkage/rendering of fat, and leaves the meat a little greasy, IMHO. The pork was quite dry and lacking flavor in the middle. Neither the chicken nor the ribs tasted of smoke, even though they were very tender. The sauce is nicely balanced, but it would be nice if he had at least another to choose from. The beans seemed to be canned bbq beans with honey and some bell pepper added. The potato salad prominently features mustard, and while I liked it, I imagine most locals would want a mayonaisse binder (like my parents did). The cole slaw seemed to be just mixed (I was there at 11:30am so that's more my fault) and cut into such large pieces that it was more like cabbage with dressing and raisins. Steamed rice as a side dish is a little bit of a headscratcher to me, but makes for an impressively heavy plate of food.

While not tasting like it had been smoked, the chicken sandwich was probably the most enjoyable item, the sandwich roll was nice and fluffy. The brisket was surprisingly good, better than many restaurants or backyarders could create on a regular basis, yet it was a disappointment compared to what he apparently is capable of. I was hoping to experience genius, but instead it was competent, excepting the smoked pork (which would normally be easier than the brisket, no?). All in all, I'd still go back again.

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Tad - you ate all that!?

I am truly impressed. Pictures are great too; you can actually see the lack of smoke ring in the brisket, presumably dispersed (?) by being finished off in the steamer.

Good BBQ is not easy to find in Hawai`i, so the West Hawaii folks may still be happy to have it even if the food is a bit uneven.

Thanks so much for the fine report.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Thanks for the kind words, SK. It actually took a few sittings to finish all of that! I tasted everything hot, took it home in a cooler, my parents tasted a bit of everything, then I polished off all the meat at another sitting.

Here's another shot of the brisket which is a little more representative of the smoke ring - check out the lower right corner.

brisketplate.jpg

You're right that it's good barbeque for Hawai`i. Hell, it's even better barbeque than many places in LA, for whatever that's worth.

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Wow! Those pictures are making me drool wildly! Thanks for the report! Wish I had some

right now! a hui ho :smile:


"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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Due to fifi's comments the Big Island recs sought thread, I felt compelled to seek out Big Jake's Island BBQ.  They have indeed moved to the Honaunau area, south of Kailua-Kona.  It's very easy to find - there's one highway around the entire island, and he's at mile marker 106, which is the small green sign on the left of this picture.

front.jpg

Right out front is his rig on a trailer, which he uses to smoke everything.  Is K is for Klose?

smoker.jpg

As is my usual M.O., I tried to order a little of everything.  Clockwise from top left, smoked chicken sandwich, smoked pork plate, brisket plate, and half a rack of baby back ribs.  Among the sides were cole slaw with raisins, a mustardy potato salad, and beans.  They only offer one sauce, which is a sweet, ketchup based sauce.  Tabasco is available to add on.

overview.jpg

Here is a close-up of the brisket, showing the smoke ring and the bed of steamed white rice underneath, which would be a concession to the locals, who expect rice on any plate.

brisket.jpg

Another close-up, but this is of the pork. 

pork.jpg

And the last close-up of a baby back rib.

rib.jpg

Short version of the review:  If you're in the area, and you're looking for something other than plate lunch, it's worth checking out.  Compared to other restaurants on that side of the island, they offer enjoyable food at a fair price.

BBQ fanatic version of the review:  fifi's enthusiastic praise would be hard to live up to, even if you were trying.  And please understand that I don't doubt what fifi experienced at all.  But I think the pictures convey that something has changed in his method, because the smoke ring ranges from normal (brisket) to undetectable (ribs & chicken).  In fairness to the restaurant, I could have been there on an off day (he had business in town, and it was meat that had been cooked the day or night before). 

What follows is not so much a litany, but a rundown of all the items I tasted.  The brisket was very tender, but seemed to have been finished off in their Winston steamer/oven (like an Alto-Shaam) which doesn't allow for as much shrinkage/rendering of fat, and leaves the meat a little greasy, IMHO.  The pork was quite dry and lacking flavor in the middle.  Neither the chicken nor the ribs tasted of smoke, even though they were very tender.  The sauce is nicely balanced, but it would be nice if he had at least another to choose from.  The beans seemed to be canned bbq beans with honey and some bell pepper added.  The potato salad prominently features mustard, and while I liked it, I imagine most locals would want a mayonaisse binder (like my parents did).  The cole slaw seemed to be just mixed (I was there at 11:30am so that's more my fault) and cut into such large pieces that it was more like cabbage with dressing and raisins.  Steamed rice as a side dish is a little bit of a headscratcher to me, but makes for an impressively heavy plate of food. 

While not tasting like it had been smoked, the chicken sandwich was probably the most enjoyable item, the sandwich roll was nice and fluffy.  The brisket was surprisingly good, better than many restaurants or backyarders could create on a regular basis, yet it was a disappointment compared to what he apparently is capable of.  I was hoping to experience genius, but instead it was competent, excepting the smoked pork (which would normally be easier than the brisket, no?).  All in all, I'd still go back again.

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Aloha,

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to visit our restaurant and insert photographs onto this website. It appears that this culinary website is so well linked that by using Google Search, this review appears as either the first or second item.

However, I feel compelled to respond to your review becuase it seems to take jabs at the very heart and soul of our restaurant business by second-quessing the way our food is prepared and smoked.

My husband is the Chef Jake, owner/chef of Big Jake's Island BBQ. He puts alot of pride in his work and spends countless hours making sure every plate that is served meets his high standard of quality.

It is very disheartening for me to read your theory on how you think Jake smokes his food. I am very sorry that he was not there that day, becuase if you had met him, you would have instantly recognized what pride he takes in his cooking, and had also seen what a genuinely nice guy he is. He would have been happy to answer any of your questions.

Alot of work goes into smoking up the food he serves. You have made the assumption, based on your review of our food, that Jake uses our Winston Alto Sham to finish off the smoking process. Why would he do that when we have a smoker? Perhaps I should give you a glimpse of what it takes to smoke up the food that Jake prepares on that smoker. (And by the way, the Winston Alto Sham sole purpose is to keep food hot at the required temperatures of 155-165 degrees F. The maximum temperature of the Winston Alto Sham is 180 degrees, therefore your theory of using it to cook any meat is not advisable in any form of public food service).

Our smoker is fed with enough locally grown keawe wood to keep the temperature at 250 deg. F for up to 20 hours at a time. Jake has the smoker going at least 3 days a week. Each day requires that he chops up enough keawe wood to keep the smoker cooking at the right temperture. Once he has the smoker going, he preps the food with his various seasonings, much like a dry rub. The half chickens come off the smoker first, they only take about 2 hours. The ribs are rubbed in seasonings, wrapped in foil, then placed into the smoker. They generally require about 4 hours. The pork butts and beef briskets take much longer. The beef briskets will stay in the smoker for up to 16-20 hours before they are done - depends on their weight.

I hope that if you visit our restaurant again, the smoker will be in action. Apparently, it was raining the day you were there, and Jake tries to avoid using the smoker on those days because it is much harder to keep the temperature high enough.

Aloha, and thanks again for the great photographs.

Roz Newlon

Big Jake's Island BBQ

808-328-1BBQ and 808-334-1211

We have 2 locations now, one in Honauanu and a second location in Kailua-Kona at the Swing Zone (a family recreation center with a 9-hole golf course, putting green, miniature golf course, and batting cage).

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