kruizing with kikukat

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Restaurant Chatter: Village Burger

Village Burger is a charming burger joint at the mouth of the food court in the Parker Ranch Center.  Its locally owned and features products grown/raised locally (Big Island).  The owner/chef enjoyed an illustrious career in the hotel food service industry before his Village Burger venture.

Prior to 1984, having a burger (sandwich) for dinner was unheard of in my family.  The only burger we ever had for dinner was served with rice.  When I went to Seattle, Uncle George and Aunty Char took me to Red Robin (4th Avenue) for dinner, and a whole new world of "burgers for dinner" was opened.  Red Robin showcased burgers dressed in almost every way imaginable, although Jungle Jim's, a rival Seattle burger joint, offered a peanut butter burger.  Let's just say that Red Robin set the standard for me.

Fast-forward twenty-seven years later.  People are not looking for a menu packed with odd combinations for building a monster burger.  People (well, me, at least) want to "eat local".  And if this is you, well then, Village Burger is where its at!  The place is clean, and you can even watch as your meal is prepared.  If you prefer to stroll, the buzzing, light-up UFO allows you to roam while you wait.

Rancher's burger
The menu isn't very large, but it showcases local stuff:  tomatoes, beef, lettuce, mushrooms, etc.  The two most popular burgers are the Rancher's burger ($7.50) and the Kahua burger ($11.50).  The Kahua burger, the pricier of the two, is made with Wagyu beef raised at Kahua Ranch.  For non-red meat eaters, there is a Hamakua mushroom burger (described by a friend as super salty).  The fries are hand-cut and are best with the parmesan goop.

fries with parmesan goop
I have been to Village Burger more than a half-dozen times, and this speaks volumes considering its located over 50 miles from where I live.  What is even more odd, and now is where I come clean, is that I have never eaten beef at Village Burger.  I can hear the gasping noises now.  Please, don't stop reading.  I need to explain.  While I do eat beef (yes, yes, smirk & giggle now), I have not been able to bring myself to order beef at Village Burger because there is something I like even more.  Tuna (okay, pick yourselves up off the floor)!!!!!!

My selection has always been the Seared Ahi Nicoise Salad ($12.00).  The ahi is chopped fine and shaped into a patty which tastes hauntingly similar to a fish burger Mom made when I was growing up.  The patty is pan fried and is presented atop a medley of lettuces and tomato wedges (of course, I don't eat this).  Garnishing the salad are bits of chopped boiled egg, kalamata olives, haricots vert, and crispy fried potatoes.  The dressing is a light vinaigrette.  My only improvement on this would be to tear the lettuce into smaller pieces and, of course, de-seed the tomatoes.

seared ahi nicoise salad

herbal tea
While beer and soft drinks (both pedestrian drinks and specialty sodas like Jones Soda) are available, I cannot resist the herbal iced tea.  The herbs are grown by the students of Waimea Middle School.  Mint, tarragon and lemon grass are the main players  in the herbal tea.  In spite of my sweet tooth, I always drink this unsweetened.

I have never seen any desserts being served at Village Burger, and if anyone reading this knows Edwin Goto, please having him contact me so I can hook him up with some great desserts.  I know someone who bakes!

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