WAIKOLOA RESORT — Hawaii restaurateur Pat Kashani opened his newest dining outlet Friday night — Big Island Burritos — bringing a Mexican, island-style fusion concept to Queens’ MarketPlace’s Ono Food Court.
“I came up with several different ideas a couple of years ago and we thought this would work best here in the food court,” he said. “We take the classic Mexican flavors and combine them with regional flavors found here on the islands — Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and others.”
With more than six other restaurants under his belt, Kashani felt the Kohala Coast lacked Mexican options. At Big Island Burritos everything is fresh, made from scratch.
He also operates Auntie Pasto’s restaurant on Oahu, two
My Big Fat Greek restaurants in Arizona and Tropics Ale House with locations in Waikoloa Beach Resort, Keauhou and Honolulu.
In Waikoloa, Kashani worked closely with Executive Chef Donn Rodriguez, hired in August at his nearby Tropics Ale House, to develop the menu. Rodriguez oversees both Tropics Ale and a staff of eight at the new location.
The menu caters to foodies looking for takeout or dine-in options. They can pick from seven dish styles: burritos, soft tacos, rice bowls, fries, nachos, taco salads or the ‘Ironman.’ Flavors range from carne asada or Kalua pig to crispy pork belly tossed in a citrus-adobo sauce, sweet and spicy marinated beef, huli chicken, ono wahoo and a vegan option (aka asada flavored Portobello mushrooms with guacamole, pico tomatoes and red and green onions). To top them are three salsa options.
“The ‘fresh kitchen’ movement has been inspired by a large consumer interest in local, sustainable and, in some cases, organic foods that are fused together,” Kashani said. “At Big Island Burritos we feature a contemporary fresh island Mexican grill with signature island-style burritos, loaded rice bowls, local farm salads and fresh soft tacos. We have multiple styles and flavors to choose from.”
Rodriguez, a Waimea resident, has cooked for top quality restaurants including Napua at Mauna Lani Beach Club.
“Big Island Burritos is a Mexican fusion with a Pacific Rim influence. We do have Mexican dishes, but we also have Korean, Hawaiian and Filipino flavors that brings together all the Pacific Rim cultures,” he said. “We will also be doing daily specials, so there might be a Chinese or another type of Filipino cuisine, but our goal is to have a concept so people can come to us and have different flavor options.”
Rodriguez’ favorite dishes come from his upbringing.
“I like the sisig with the crispy pork belly, like the traditional Filipino pork dish. I use my mom’s recipe,” he said. “I also like the California burrito steak and potatoes in a burrito with hot sauce and guacamole. You can’t go wrong.”
The Ironman burrito is only for those with the biggest appetites.
“It is two 16-inch tortillas rolled into one with whatever our guest wants inside – carne asada, Kalua pig or a big vegan burrito. That is equivalent of the size of your forearm,” Rodriguez said.
Chips and guacamole are housemade. Flavor twists include garlic fried rice, kimchi slaw and sriracha sour cream.
So far, business has been good.
“It’s a really good opportunity here in the food court. It’s always busy,” Kashani said. “We will have 150-200 customers daily.”
Big Island Burritos is open from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily.
Info: Visit www.bigislandburritos.com or call 339-7993 to phone in orders.