Kimo’s getaway

Henri gets Hawaiian therapy—doesn’t care for Spam a lot

Owner and chef Kimo in the kitchen.

Owner and chef Kimo in the kitchen.

Photo By matt siracusa

Kimo’s Hawaiian Grill, 999 Marauder St., 345-8200,, Open weekdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Colette’s mood had grown rather lugubrious of late, the winter rains and gray skies having dampened her otherwise winsome demeanor.

“Can we just go for a drive or something?” she asked, staring out through the rain-spattered window at the empty street.

Not feeling particularly jocund myself, I welcomed the idea. She pulled on a parka while I put rubbers over my new Armani loafers, and we left Miss Marilyn and Mr. Theo sleeping by the fire.

Next thing I knew she was driving down Mangrove, out past Tinseltown, and heading into the countryside. “Where are you taking me?” I asked.

“We’re going to the airport. At least we can imagine ourselves flying off to some sunny clime.”

Airport? Chico has an airport? Well, sort of, it turns out. Airport-lite, really. But there it was, and for the next several hours we watched people coming and going, in cabs and cars and small private planes, and then around noon a commercial plane landed.

“If you could go anywhere right now, where would it be?” Colette asked, as a dozen or so passengers disembarked.

“Paris maybe. Madrid. You?”

“Someplace tropical. I want to feel sand between my toes, a warm breeze.”


“Tahiti, Fiji, the Caribbean.”

I curled my lip. “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not on it, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life.”

She rolled her eyes. “Give me a break.”

I shrugged. “I’ll buy you lunch.”

We had barely pulled out of the parking lot when Colette hit the brakes and Pierre lurched to a stop. “Look,” Colette said, pointing to a little building on the corner. “Is that serendipity or what?”

Sure enough, we were stopped right in front of a little restaurant with a sign out front that read “Kimo’s Hawaiian Grill.”

She pulled into the parking lot and we hastened inside, where we were greeted by floor-to-ceiling murals of tropical beaches and framed prints of island flora.

“This just might do,” she said.

Kimo’s specializes in authentic fast-food-style island lunches, chef/owner Kimo having spent 15 years in the restaurant business on Oahu and Maui. There are 12 tables in a spare little concrete-floor dining room, condiments available, airport-kiosk-style, on a shelf against one wall. Sandwiches, burgers, rice bowls and lunch plates run $5-$8 and include Kalua pork (slow roasted in banana leaves) and beef, and teriyaki chicken. Lunch plates come with rice and potato-mac or green salad. Salads alone are $3.50-$5.45. There are also several daily specials, as well as the Loco Moco—hamburger steak served over rice with gravy and fried eggs.

Colette’s chicken bowl was very good. The crispy Panko-breaded breast was served over a huge bowl of rice with fresh carrots, zucchini, broccoli and a pineapple slice. My pulled-pork sandwich with barbecue sauce was even better—the huge pile of tender pork spilling outside the bun. We also ordered a side of fries ($1.65), which were hot, fresh and tasty. We departed, our spirits significantly lifted.

We returned several days later, at Colette’s insistence. This time she ordered the bacon and avocado burger and then turned to me. “You gotta try it. It’s the Hawaiian national dish.”

I took a breath. “I’ll have the Spam bowl.”

While we waited, Kimo himself—in pajama bottoms and Crocs—came out from the kitchen, tuned his boom box to Hawaiian music and wandered over to our table. We chatted for several minutes before he returned to his cooking.

Colette’s burger was quite good. My Spam on the other hand, well, perhaps it’s an acquired taste. Kimo had fried it, which apparently is traditional in Hawaii, and it was a bit on the greasy side. I’ll try the Kalua pork next time—when, Colette now swears, we’ll actually be in Hawaii.