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11 April 2013

The Burger Bulletin: Kua 'Aina

After some pre-holiday shopping this evening, I was in Soho and in need of dinner. My initial plan was to go to Brgr.co in Wardour Street but then it started to rain and I happened upon Kua 'Aina, just off Carnaby Street. Also, I was in the mood for vowels. Kua 'Aina has a couple of locations in Hawai'i, one of which is supposed to be one of Barack Obama's favourite places in his home state, a handful in Japan, and now one in London. The Japanese connection is interesting, because Kua 'Aina is a little like a Hawai'ian burger shack theme park. Surf boards on the walls: check. Vintage posters of bikini-clad babes and turquoise oceans: check. All that was missing were the leis.

Kua 'Aina: Hawai'ian burgers near Carnaby Street

Kua 'Aina is famous for its lava-rock-chargrilled burgers. You can choose a 1/2 lb or a 1/3 lb burger and add various combinations of cheese, bacon, avo and, this being a Hawai'ian, pineapple. I ordered a 1/3 lb burger with cheddar and despite the promise on the menu that "juicy medium" was standard, I opted to have it medium rare just in case. I needn't have worried because the burger was delicious: juicy, flavoursome and very moreish. I'm not really sure what difference the lava grilling made, but they are obviously doing something right! The golden, seeded bun ("baked daily") was also good. I probably could have eaten the 1/2 lb model, especially because the skin-on fries were fine, but nothing special.

Kua 'Aina cheese burger

And the golden seeded bun.

The menu also offered sweet potato fries but I overindulged in those last week (I also saw an empty cardboard box upstairs that seemed to have contained the non-homemade sweet potato fries). If you're not in the mood for a burger, there is a selection of sandwiches and salads. They also "fluffy American pancakes" and a few Hawai'ian puddings and drinks.

A long way from Honolulu...

The restaurant is pretty small and crowded — there are a few seats outside for those rare days when the London weather is being kind. I was sitting downstairs and although the wait staff was friendly, the service was a little spotty, in part, I'm sure, because the downpour made Kua 'Aina very busy tonight. Still, it was refreshing not to see the standard 12.5% service charge being whacked on the bill. For a chilled out, unpretentious restaurant that offers a great burger without the queues or the attitude, you should check Kua 'Aina out.

Kua 'Aina. 26 Foubert's Place (just off Carnaby Street), London, W1F 7PP (Tube: Oxford Circus). Website. Twitter.

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