I've never tried Hawaiin BBQ before, but I consider myself a BBQ fanatic. I adore Brush Fire BBQ (brushfirebbq.com) to the extent that I would eat there even if I wasn't hungry at all. So when my bestie suggested trying Mama's Hawaiin BBQ near to the U of A campus, I was more than ready to get my Que on.
Mama's has ample parking, which can be rare on Campus, and right away there were smells of BBQ heaven before we even reached the door. Mama's is a converted fast food place where the menu is posted on boards above the kitchen window--but don't let that turn you away from some of the best Hawaiian food in town.
We basically ordered every meat (except for the shrimp) on the menu by way of the Big Kahuna Plate and the Kalbi short ribs; so we tried the chicken, pulled pork, beef, and ribs cut Korean style. Our combos came with two scoops of white rice and macaroni salad. On the side we had Teriyaki and Hot Sauce (it seemed to be a stewed tomato, pineapple, chili petine mix). They also serve Mahi fillets, tofu, various Hawaiian hamburgers, Spam dishes, and wings.
This being my first foray into Hawaiian food, I was a little skeptical: the plates I saw coming out to customers didn't seem to have anything on the meats, and why serve white rice with macaroni salad? I thought for a minute it was weird to serve a couple of starches right beside each other. But then I dug into my own plate, and let me say, the macaroni salad was dangerously scrumptious, and the white rice was a perfect compliment to the robust flavors of the meat, whether it be the chicken, pork, beef, or ribs. There was a distinct and balanced flavor to each of the grilled meats, not too heavy, not too thin.
The Teryaki was of the thinner variety, but subtly flavorful when drizzled over everything: the meat, rice, and macaroni salad. The "hot sauce" was not just delicious, it snuck up on you with its heat. We were stuffed, but had enough room to enjoy some pineapple upside down cake which was dense, tart, and just plain delicious.
I've asked other people who are familiar with Hawaiian BBQ, and 99% of them say Mama's (at the U of A and in Sahuarita) is a hands down favorite. Even as I type this, I am ready to go back and try it again and again.
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