Late-night luau

Pub date September 5, 2006
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS I mean, they were already practically married, but my friends Little Him and Little Her officially said they did in the Presidio last weekend, and there was a decidedly islandish theme to the event.
Hawaii, I mean — so technically I should have been playing the uke instead of steel pan. But I’m not a very technical person.
And this isn’t the society pages.
It’s the food section. You want to know about my week in Idaho, right, being a semiprofessional cook for the first and probably last time ever? Among other whimsical dishes, I invented angeled eggs. Instead of mayonnaise, you use, predictably, barbecued chicken. And instead of paprika, fresh salsa.
There was a barbecued squash stuffed with refried beans, sausage, and olives, and another sausage poked suggestively through cored zucchini slices. A pork feast marinated in unripe green grape juice (thanks, Chrissy), rubbed with fresh herbs and basted in pear barbecue sauce — everything but the pig courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. “Jack” Poetry’s garden.
I love using what nature and hecklers throw at you. Barbecued green tomatoes (because deer kept knocking them off the vines). Barbecued overripe cucumbers …
What else rolled off the grill was, of course, my signature dish, barbecued eggs. Which, so you know, have come a long way since I last wrote about them, last winter, I think. I think I was cooking them then in meat grease and barbecue sauce in a bread pan in the wood stove. Now I pour the beat-up eggs into cored bell peppers with chunks of sausage and/or whatever … toothpick a strip of bacon around the rim of the pepper, skewer the toothpick with a cherry tomato, olive, onion, and/or also whatever. And stand them up on the grill. It’s not quite perfected yet, because they fall and spill and take forever to set; but it’s getting there, and it not only tastes better but looks 10 times prettier than huevos Dancheros did.
I have a term for what I do, cooking-wise: nouveau trash.
There are other words as well. But the important thing is that, like Little League baseball, I had a lot of fun doing it. And I had, in Johnny “Jack,” Eberle “Jack,” and Georgie “Jack” Bundle, an appreciative and enthusiastic audience. They were working hard recording music all day, every day, and if not for the chicken farmer would have eaten nothing but toast and Cheerios for a week.
At the end of which week, I dropped Mr. Bundle off at the Boise airport so he could make it to his grandpa’s 90th birthday party and delivered his car full of gear to Oakland. The “Hawaiian Wedding Song” was already stuck in my head, and this was a week before the wedding.
In case you don’t know it, you can easily imagine: it’s a wedding song! The lyrics are unadulterated cheese, but the melody is spectacularly all-over-the-place. I was going to have to learn it, and I didn’t have anything better to do with my ears between Boise and Oakland, so I looped the recording and sang and whistled and hummed and yodeled and just generally drove myself crazy.
Next day needing something to eat in the Sunset, I thought of Island Café, that new Hawaiian joint where JT’s all-night diner used to be. Taraval and 19th Ave. Thematically, geographically, it just seemed like the thing to do. And I was all alonesome still, and they have a counter. A great one. An even greater one than it used to be, because there’s a big TV now, and women’s golf was on.
Women’s golf goes good with Hawaiian food. Who knew?
Instead of Spam and eggs or barbecued chicken soup, which I didn’t see until too late, I got Loco Moco ($8.65). That’s three hamburger patties, three scoops of rice because I didn’t want the macaroni (because of mayonnaise), some cabbage, and of course gravy. But not enough gravy. I distinctly remember reading the word “smothered” on the menu in reference to gravy, and neither the burgers nor the rice scoops were what I would call smothered. They were dolloped.
But besides that I have nothing bad to say about my new favorite Hawaiian restaurant. The service was good and friendly. Women’s golf. Uke. Surfboard. Good music. Good vibe. Nothing’s more than 10 bucks. A lot of things are a lot less.
And — and this is a big and — they’re open till 2 a.m., and all night Thursday through Saturday. SFBG
Sun.–Wed., 8–2 a.m.; Thurs.–Sat., 24 hours
901 Taraval, SF
(415) 661-3303
Takeout available
Beer and wine
Wheelchair accessible