In Baguio City, Hawaiian BBQ is located at the building beside the Igorot Stairs in Upper Session Road.
March 1 officially marks the start of summer here in the Philippines, and a lot of Filipinos made their way North to Baguio to enjoy the cool breeze and the Pangbenga Festival this week (click here for activities you can enjoy there until this weekend, March 4, 2018). If you happen to be in the City of Pines or have plans to cool off there this hot season, make sure to check out the branch of The Original Hawaiian BBQ up there!
I first tried Hawaiian BBQ at their hugely popular branch in Boracay. From dining by the sunny beach in Boracay, you can now savor Hawaiian BBQ while enjoying the view of Baguio’s mountain slopes, pine trees, and in the chilly weather. Make sure to eat your meals fast—they get cold very quickly in Baguio! But it’s soooo good to eat good barbecue dishes when the weather is cold.
If you’re not familiar with Hawaiian BBQ, it’s from the Happy Concept Group by Happy Ongpauco, who also brought us Pamana (which I blogged about here recently and incidentally also has a branch in Baguio, at the same building as Hawaiian BBQ and Tsokolateria, which I will blog about soon). Hawaiian BBQ wants to give its diners the same experience of Hawaiian fare that one could possibly enjoy at, say, a Luau, a traditional Hawaiian party or gathering among family and friends to celebrate life and different cultures with mouth-watering dishes.
Hawaiian cuisine is made up of exotic and ethnic dishes from several influences that include Polynesian, Tahitian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, American, and even Filipino culinary cultures. It’s truly a melting pot of the different cuisines that blended over generations.
What made Hawaiian BBQ popular is their Famous Baby Back Ribs (P400/S, P805/M, P1,040/L), which are roasted in their homemade sweet and tangy sauce, served Hawaiian-style with pineapple and your choice of side dishes: roasted garlic mashed potato, coleslaw salad, taro shoestring fries, buttered corn and carrots, or French Fries. I can never visit Boracay without having my fill of these fall-off-the-bone tender ribs with a nice char to them, and I’m glad I can also enjoy the same when I’m up in Baguio. The large portion is definitely good for the whole family!
Another order that’s great for a big group is the BBQ Platter (P940), which includes a variety of meat and seafood grilled to perfection and smothered in one of their three original sauces: Original Hawaiian BBQ, Sam Choi’s Spicy Rub, and Coconut Honey. The platter had shrimp, Pork BBQ, Chicken BBQ, Fish BBQ, Pork Belly, and BBQ Mussels, served with grilled corn, pineapple, mango, and oranges. It’s definitely worth what you paid for—sulit!
When my parents, my husband, and I ate at the Baguio branch recently, we ordered the BBQ Platter with the Original Hawaiian BBQ sauce, of course. I just loved to smother everything in more of their sweet BBQ sauce. The whole family’s favorite from the platter was the Pork Belly, which was tender, grilled perfectly with a nice char, with the BBQ sauce evenly coated on it and soaked all the way through. It was so delicious! We also liked the Chicken BBQ, which was roasted well, with a great smoky flavor, complemented by the BBQ sauce. Likewise, the tender Pork BBQ was sweet and savory. For someone who doesn’t usually enjoy grilled squid, I found that theirs was cooked so well: chewy, not gummy, with a nice char to it. The squid, the fish, and the huge shrimp all tasted fresh!
There was a city-wide brownout at the time of our visit, but the staff made sure we still got their best dishes, grilled perfectly. We watched them grilling our food outdoors.
While we did so, we ordered a starter of Crispy Spam Masubi (P305), which is Hawaiian BBQ’s version of the popular Hawaiian snack. Their Spam musubi is enveloped in sushi rice and nori, dipped in Hawaiian batter, and deep-fried to perfection. Instead of the traditional teriyaki sauce used for typical Spam musubis, they used their sweet and tangy original BBQ sauce, which complemented the savory Spam, along with the flavorful nori, moist Japanese rice, and the texture of the breading. It’s made of six large pieces of Spam musubi, so it’s good for sharing. I find the presentation in a Spam can so cute!
My mom and I also love corn, so we shared one order of Hawaiian BBQ’s Grilled Corn on a Cob, which comes in a variety of flavors. We chose Garlic and Herbs (P100), which was so buttery, yet the bold flavor of garlic and savory herbs still stood out nicely. This sweet corn was easy to shred from the cob.
Just writing about all this makes my mouth water, so I’m telling you: Don’t forget to include Hawaiian BBQ in your itinerary when you visit Baguio, Boracay, or even Tagaytay this summer.