Island Address Book 10-14-2005

Robert Cazimero On the Best Hamburger Steak and Other Local Favorites

By: Michele Kayal

Robert Cazimero is one of those musicians that you might just as easily see on line at the bank as on stage at a pricey venue.

In the 1970s he was instrumental in helping revive Hawaiian music and helped bring the songs of the islands to the Mainland and beyond. Whenever he and his brother Roland (the other half of The Brothers Cazimero) perform at places like the Waikiki Shell, one sure crowd pleaser is an anthem to Hawaiian food called “Fish and Poi.”

But recently the crooner’s mind ran toward hamburger steak. Smothered in brown gravy and always served with “two scoops rice,” the big beef patties keep surfers and hearty island appetites going. Robert wanted to let visitors in on his favorite places to find them.

The first place Robert goes when he’s got the jones is Honolulu’s Boulevard Saimin.

“It’s a hole in the wall that you have to be local to know, and the taste is beyond comfort,” he said. The patties are thick to boot: The women who shape them measure them out in big rice scoops, said part-owner Lynn Yagi.

Open 24 hours, Like Like Drive Inn is one of those places where Honolulu locals especially entertainers meet before, during and after hours, and there’s almost always a hamburger steak going on one table or another.

This one’s got a mass of grilled onions mingling with the gravy, Robert said, and a side order of potato-macaroni salad completes the experience.

“As most businessmen consider the golf course as a place to do ‘real’ business, those of us in the entertainment world have Like Like,” he said.

But as an entertainer, Robert is well traveled and so are his taste buds leading him to another favorite Duane’s Ono Charburgers on Kauai.

“The burgers are so huge and so packed you have trouble getting your mouth around them,” he said.

Eventually Robert always returns to fish and poi, and he wants to make sure visitors do too.

“There was a time when I didn’t like poke,” he says, referring to the cubed ahi tossed with raw onions and seaweed that is a staple of Hawaiian tables. “But now, I eat ’em up like steak!”

After a long show, Robert’s first poke stop is Shinsho-tei, a karaoke bar with a wide variety of pupus (appetizers or snacks).

“The mixture of the green onions and shoyu and the perfect amount of Hawaiian salt takes me home,” he said.

His other poke favorite and a favorite of many locals is Fort Ruger Market near Waikiki, where they slap a giant fish on the table and cut your poke right there in front of diners. In a way, guests make their own poke: you want extra onion, just tell them.

More shoyu? No problem.

Robert’s favorite place for poke may be the home of Kawika Trask, a fellow musician and Hawaiian cultural specialist.

“But you have to know Kawika pretty well before he cuts fish for you and you have to take him with a grain of salt,” he said.

It just isn’t poke without a little Hawaiian salt.


Boulevard Saimin
1425 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu

Like Like Drive Inn
745 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu

Duane’s Ono Charburgers
On Kuhio Highway in Anahola, Kauai

1613 Nuuanu Ave. (in Nuuanu Shopping Plaza)

Fort Ruger Market
3585 Alohea Ave., Honolulu

Clients can hear Robert Cazimero at Chai’s Island Bistro, in Honolulu’s Aloha Tower Marketplace, Tuesday nights from 7 p.m.-9p.m.