Going For Great Ribs At Sunset

Jo McGarry
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Friday - July 29, 2005
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‘Rib Specialist’ Robert Kekaula

If you’re a rib lover, then you might as well hurry on down to Sunset Grill before the end of the summer. While many restaurants have rib specials running this month — what’s a summer barbecue without ribs on the grill? Sunset Grill is the newly crowned champion of ribs in Honolulu. And it was deemed the winner not just by a panel of celebrity judges (including rib “specialists” Robert Kekaula, Bobby Curran, Kim Gennaula, Guy Hagi and Star-Bulletin food editor Betty Shimabukuro), but by thousands of people who judged it, too.

“I have to admit we were a little nervous,” commented restaurant general manager, Stu Schroeder. “Of course we have some pretty good ribs, but you just never know, with all that competition out there.”

Coincidentally, Sunset has a special this month that features a rib plate — theirs is the kiawe-grilled kind — with roast chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, coleslaw and corn on the cob. All for just $16.95. There are other entrees, including a fresh catch of the day with veggies, citrus ponzu with rice, and chicken marsala with linguine and vegetables for the same price.

If you haven’t been to Sunset Grill, then this is a perfect time to give it a try. They make a big deal about the fact that they have “way too many wines” on their list, and the truth is they have as good a selection by the glass as many “finer” restaurants. My favorite thing to do is to sit at the bar, taste a few different wines — they rotate pretty frequently — and order from the menu, pupu style.


There’s been a variety of chefs at the kiawe grill in the past couple of years — first Ryan Day left to go to Ala Moana Hotel, then Jimmy Gillespie left to go to Koolau Golf Club — so the menu has gone through changes that you don’t see that often at restaurants that keep the same chef. Whatever the reason they fly through chefs, the menu is excellent and if you like dining in finer style, but don’t like a huge check at the end of the night, then this is a great place to go. It has the feel of a special occasion restaurant, with white tablecloths, shiny big wine glasses and a good buzz at both lunch and dinner, but it’s far less intimidating. Service is good too, and parking at Restaurant Row is usually no problem.

When Ryan was the chef he called the food “American bistro,” Jimmy called it “contemporary American.” I don’t know what Robert, the latest in their lineup is calling it — but I do know that it’s good.

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