Welcome to Lunch Time! Every Monday, I’ll share a South Sound lunch experience with you. Have a place in mind I should visit for lunch in the South Sound? Email me and I’ll check it out.
First up is a new option for Hawaiian food in Tacoma. Da Tiki Hut recently opened on Sixth Avenue in the old Taco Time location. I had a hankering for Hawaiian food last week, and decided to drop in and check it out. I was born and raised in the Aloha State, so like to see see how places in Washington stack up to some of my favorites back home.
Polynesian-themed décor and modern Hawaiian music set the scene in this new restaurant. Cheery, but the tiki in its name is a little bit off for me, especially for a Hawaiian restaurant. The tiki actually originates in Maori culture, and you see similar depictions of deities pop up throughout Polynesia. The closest word in Hawaiian culture for the tiki is “ki’i.” There is no “T” in the Hawaiian language. But both words have similar meanings relating to an image depicting a deity. No need to digress into an in-depth look at divergent Polynesian cultures and languages here. Back to the food.
The current menu is quite short, featuring four main entree options — Tiki Chicken, Korean Chicken and Kalua Pork (all of these come “plate lunch” style, which means they’re served with rice and mac or green salad) or Loco Moco, which is a hamburger patty topped with an egg that’s served on a bed of rice, all slathered with brown gravy. The plate lunches are $6.50 for a small and $8.50 for a large. The loco moco sits at a fairly priced $6.50. You also can order a nostalgic favorite of mine — spam musubi, which is a slice of spam and rice wrapped in nori.
The chef seems to be figuring out the menu, looking for honest feedback. He allowed me to sample all three meat choices for the plate lunches. I found the two chicken choices overly sweet and too similar. But the kalua pork had a nice smoky flavor and was quite close in taste to kalua pork I’d had at plate lunch restaurants or luaus back in Hawaii. I opted for a small kalua pork plate lunch and a spam musubi. The mac salad was strangely sweet, but everything else hit the mark for me. In hindsight, I should have ordered the special, which was a loco moco with kalua pork instead of the hamburger patty.
I’d like to see Da Tiki Hut continue its to develop its menu and become a staple for Hawaiian food in Tacoma. I think for now its a work in progress, but the kalua pork is worth a try if you’re craving it.