10 Questions about Da Big Kahuna
1. Tell us about Da Big Kahuna.
We are a family owned restaurant. The restaurant in Jacksonville Beach is our third. Our first restaurant opened in Waikiki, Hawaii in 2005; our second in Fort Lauderdale in 2010. We officially opened here in Jax Beach in June (2012).
We're from Hawaii and we wanted to capture the Hawaiian spirit in our restaurants. That's why you see the tiki lights, palm trees, Hawaiian carvings and the Hawaiian themed food.
All of our restaurants are on or close to the beach and that's one of the things that attracted us to Jax Beach. We really like the ocean and surfing cultures and they're both well represented here.
2. What makes Da Big Kahuna special?
A number of things. We're a full service restaurant, bar and lounge. Whether you want a full meal, snack or just a drink, we have something for you to enjoy.
We give our restaurants an exotic look and share a bit of island culture with our guests. That starts with how we decorate the restaurant, cover the tables, and even how we greet our customers - we always try to use the Hawaiian greetings of Aloha (hello/goodbye) and Mahalo (thank-you), for example. This tropical atmosphere has been well received in our beach communities.
3. Do your restaurants cater mostly to locals or to beach visitors?
To both. Being on the beach we definitely get a lot of tourists. But at the same time that's also where a lot of the surf-loving locals are as well. So, we have have things that appeal to both groups.
4. What sort of food do you serve?
We have a wide variety of food. There's a Hawaiian theme to a core set of our food, but not all our food is Hawaiian. We have soups, salads, chili, Kalua pork and even our own signature burger creation, Da Big Kahuna Burger. We developed our own unique Kahuna sauce for that - it's made with mayo, ketchup, a couple of other ingredients and just a little cayenne to give it an interesting kick.
5. Can you tell us about some of your Hawaiian themed food?
We have a number of Hawaiian specialties. The Loco Moco is one interesting example. It's a half pound burger (no bun) over two scoops of rice. Two eggs made your way are placed on top and the whole thing is smothered in brown gravy. If you aren't a burger fan you can also have it with our Kalua pork.
Our North Shore Shrimp is a typically Hawaiian seafood dish.
New to our menu is Ahi Póke. It's another popular dish from Hawaii - raw tuna with mildly spiced sesame soy dressing, red onions, sesame seeds and topped with scallions and a slice of lime.
In Hawaii we get a lot of customers from the navy. We're seeing the same thing here in Jacksonville - navy people who may have spent some time in Hawaii dropping by to try some of their Hawaiian favorites like Huli Huli chicken or Kalua Pork - the Hawaiian version of pulled pork. In Hawaii Kalua pork is cooked in a pit dug into the ground. We can't do that here but we do manage to capture the same distinctive flavor that is typical of Hawaiian barbecue. I know that barbecue is really popular in the South. I hope that people who really like barbecue will come out and try it Hawaiian style.
6. Can you recommend a few dishes?
Loco Moco. This is found everywhere in Hawaii and is a good introduction to Hawaiian cuisine. Loco Moco in Hawaii is eaten for any occasion, day or night.
Kaula Pork. This is typically served at luaus in Hawaii. We offer it as a plate or sandwich.
Ahi Póke is new and is another good dish that's representative of Hawaii and Da Big Kahuna.
7. For someone who has been a few times, can you recommend something a little different?
Da Big Kahuna Burger is a must-try. It's a 1/2lb beef patty with swiss and cheddar, grilled ham, smoked bacon and grilled pineapple to give a sweet bite and a Hawaiian twist to a burger. It's served with our zesty Kahuna sauce to make it a very unique and flavorful taste.
8. What's the most popular dish?
Kalua pork and tuna tataki (seared Ahi) are both very popular, as is our Loco Moco.
9. What's your favorite dish?
I like a lot of things and I tend to go back and forth in my favorites. Da Big Kahuna Burger and the Loco Moco are definitely favorites but I don't limit my favorites and they tend to change based on my mood.
10. You're also adding entertainment...
Yes. We're still experimenting with what works best for Jax Beach, but our goal is to be a fun destination both to eat and to relax. So we have a live DJ, some bands and singers, for example. We're also looking to bring in some games like beer pong, poker and trivia. We also have TVs for the big sporting events. This fits really well with our lounge and bar area.
11. Your lounge features some interesting cocktails...
Cocktails are very popular in a Polynesian lounge setting. It's all about relaxing and having a good time.
12. Da Fish Bowl…?
That's one of our creations. It's very, very popular in Hawaii. It's a half gallon drink that comes with six different shots. We provide giant straws and plastic fish in the drink. People use the straws to play with the fish. It's great for sharing (or not).