Things started out really well at Big Kahuna’s Island Style Bowls. And let me hasten to say that things ended nicely, too.
The middle part was frustrating.
Let’s start with the beginning. I entered the small storefront on Tuskawilla Road and was greeted by a man sitting in a large comfy chair just inside the front door. I’ll assume he was the owner — Mr. Kahuna, perhaps — and I thought is was nice that he said hello — if he had wanted to he could have pretended to just be another customer.
And I was also greeted quite genuinely by a young man behind the counter, who bade me welcome and said something along the lines of, “What can I start building for you today?”
That’s when things started to get frustrating.
Big Kahuna’s applies the assemblage concept to the current poke trend. They offer some pre-selected bowls, but the young man, who explained the process to me after I told him it was my first visit, said it was better to choose my own ingredients because you get more options.
I should have known better. Sometimes more options isn’t an attractive option. There’s a point when the experience veers from dining out to going shopping.
Here, you first choose your base — white rice, brown rice or salad mix. Then the fish — ahi tuna, salmon, yellowtail, octopus, shrimp, though technically the last two aren’t really fish. Also, you may have a combination of said sea creatures.
This is where it starts to get exasperating. There are eight sauces to choose among, which is a daunting enough number. There are 17 other toppings, ranging from corn to mango to wasabi peas. And that’s not counting the premium toppings, such as avocado and macadamia nuts that bring an additional fee.
This is where I choked. I couldn’t stand the pressure. I looked up at the young man, who was poised with tongs, awaiting my instructions, eager to plop my choices into the bowl and (I feared) judge me for having made a wrong choice.
I blurted out a couple of random items and said enough. At that point I would have appreciated having Xanax as a premium topping.
But I told you above that everything ended nicely. It did, because I did not manage to ruin my lunch with a wrong ingredient, and those I chose were all fresh tasting and delicious, including the tuna and yellow tail I selected as my fish choices.
I ate my meal at one of the picnic style tables in the small, bright restaurant. I would be happy to dine at Big Kahuna’s again, but I would definitely order one of the pre-ordained selections.
Big Kahuna’s Island Style Bowls is at 1450 Tuskawilla Road, Winter Springs. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-543-3700.