Back in March, some Hawai’i Foodie Club members and I were invited to try the spread at Tin Hut BBQ. It was on a weeknight, and I remembered that it was a fun event. We enjoyed each other’s company whilst eating good food. We were overjoyed by Frank and his team’s hospitality. They served us special menu items for that particular event. The smoked chicken katsu, as well as their new creation, the “trash can nachos”, really stood out for me.
The chicken katsu was available in two ways; in a more traditional style and with a honey rub. I liked both equally, as the former was more savory, and the latter had a savory-sweet profile. The trash can nachos were a sight to behold. It was prepared by alternating layers of tortilla chips, pulled pork, black beans, and cheese (all stacked within a large tin can). Topped with sour cream, tomatoes, and cilantro, it was an elevated version of a taco salad. What made this item exciting was the “big reveal.” By placing the can upside down, waiting to be lifted off the base-plate, you could anticipate the drama. When the tin can was finally lifted, it revealed a glorious tower of goodness. It was certainly a crowd-pleaser.
Since then, I have returned to visit them at the Pearl Highlands Shopping Center. Due to the pandemic and restrictions, their hours of operation have been reduced. On my most recent attempt, I was able to catch them on a Saturday evening. Ordering was straightforward on Tin Hut BBQ’s app fueled by the food ordering app, ChowNow. While they didn’t end up having some of the items that I was craving, I left with the impression that the food items that were currently being featured would still be tasty.
After finally picking up my order from their counter, I made the drive over to the North Shore of the island. There, I picked up my longtime best friend from her house, and dropped off some food for her husband. We then headed over to the beach for a little sunset BBQ picnic. It was a spread of fan favorites. We actually loaded up on sides more than actual main dishes.
Our Picnic Spread
Smoked BBQ Beans: The first thing that I dug into was the smoked BBQ beans. When navy beans are prepared in a baked or a stewed fashion with other aromatics, they are plenty savory. When the smoked flavor is added, it brings beans to another dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. If I had doubled up on an order of this and ordered other side dishes to complement it, I would be more than satisfied. Perhaps I will do just that in my efforts to move towards a pescetarian diet.
Take Two Plate: This was the plate I dropped off to my friend’s husband. With this plate, you get a choice of two meats and two sides. He had St. Louis style ribs and pulled pork, with sides of mashed potatoes, brisket gravy and pineapple coleslaw. When I looked into how St. Louis style ribs differed from other rib preparations, I learned that they have a higher fat content, leading to a juicy flavor and a more tender meat. Accentuated with a touch of Tin Hut’s BBQ sauce, it was all the more enjoyable. The same sentiment follows with the pulled pork; it was tender on its own, but was even better with the sauce.
Spicy Mac and Cheez: This mac and cheese is prepared with four different kinds of cheese and is spiced with Tin Hut BBQ’s special spice blend. This spicy version also has jalapeno mixed in, which dominates the actual mac and cheese flavor. I liked it, but I wished I could taste the cheese. Maybe I will order the regular Mac and Cheez next time and see if that makes a difference.
Pulled Pork Sandwich: This was my friend’s plate, which came with two sides; hers being the mashed potato with brisket gravy and green beans. She enjoyed the sandwich, as the meat was tender. She and I had to laugh when she struggled to get the bread and meat together in one bite. The bread slices were thick, and a lot of pulled pork was placed inside the sandwich. Needless to say, her struggle to eat this was a fun thing to witness.
Lighter Fare: The smallest plate offered at Tin Hut BBQ is the Lighter Fare. It’s basically your choice of an entree with one side. I ordered the smoked sausage with green beans. It was delicious, although a bit overpriced in my opinion, for the portion. The smoked sausage had a touch of spice, and was served with caramelized onions on top. The green beans were cooked country-style, mixed with smoked bacon and onions. However, I couldn’t taste the enhancement of smoked bacon and onions; I could only taste salted green beans. In hindsight, I probably should have gone with an alternative side instead.
Transitioning Back to Regular Hours
This past week, the State of Hawaii, and the City and County of Honolulu announced that they will start opening things back up. Tin Hut is planning to also slowly transition back into regular hours at the food court. Please note that for now, the hours at the Pearl Highlands food court will be limited to only Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Beware that the listed hours on Yelp and their website (at time of this writing) are currently not updated.
So for those special days you crave BBQ , or evenings where you don’t feel like putting in the effort to cook for yourself, a stop at Tin Hut BBQ is worth it. Tin Hut BBQ hopes to eventually resume normal hours for their mall customers. But until then, I suggest downloading the Tin Hut BBQ app for current hours and menu, keep checking their social media, or give them a call before visiting them.
Hours and Contact Info
Tin Hut BBQ – Food Court
Hours: Thursday-Saturday from 11:00 am-6:00 pm
Address: 1000 Kamehameha Hwy, Pearl Highlands Center Food Court, Pearl City, HI 96782
Phone number: (808) 492-6776
Order at the counter, on the Tin Hut BBQ app, or via phone.