Fame Lingers for Bobby's Hawaiian Style Restaurant in Everett

By Kristi O'Harran
The Everett Herald

EVERETT -- Fame hasn't simmered down at Bobby's Hawaiian Style Restaurant in Everett.

The place was featured in fall 2007 on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," and folks have recently arrived from Texas and Canada to sample the kalua pig. We reviewed the restaurant Oct. 17 in our A&E section.

It's been a crazy ride that could get even more insane as "Diners" host Guy Fieri's new cookbook hits book stores today.

"Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip ... with Recipes!" includes at least one recipe from the Everett establishment, owner Bobby Nakihei said.

Nakihei said the book includes his recipes for kalua pig and laulau, bundles of pork, beef, chicken or fish in taro leaves.

The restaurant at 1011 Hewitt Ave. was pitched to the Food Network by enthusiastic phone calls and e-mails. One customer -- the owner doesn't know who -- sent a passionate three-page e-mail to the network extolling the virtues of the restaurant's Hawaiian food.

Nakihei and his wife, Diana, were contacted by the show online, and they responded to a number of questions, such as their history, type of food and signature dishes -- and why the restaurant is a good place to eat.

They wrote back, including sending information about their homemade sauce.

"Teriyaki," Nakihei said. "Hawaiians love teriyaki."

The show called and a six-person crew showed up on a Wednesday, with Fieri. There was a long day of fun, all captured on film, in the kitchen.

Fieri helped cook everything -- including laulau -- with off-the-cuff humor filling the small kitchen with new friendship.

"Guy is awesome," Nakihei said. "Oh my gosh, he's the best."

That Friday, part of the crew came back, without the star, and spent a day doing close-up shots of hands cooking and preparing food .

The restaurant is now 9 years old. It moved west on Hewitt Avenue two years ago from its downtown location.

After the show first aired in 2007, the couple was overwhelmed with patronage. They even had to close a couple of days to catch their breath.

"People came from Maine and Wisconsin," Diana Nakihei said. "People came out of their way to eat here."

The Nakiheis moved to Everett almost 20 years ago from Hawaii. Her parents had retired here. Their only competition in the Hawaiian food field is a restaurant in Lynnwood. More than a third of their business is catering.

They moved away from across Comcast Arena to a quieter spot on Hewitt that offers lots of parking, she said.

At a recent lunchtime, Noelle Nelson of Mukilteo mentioned her favorites at the restaurant are mochi chicken and kalbi ribs. Her friend, Karin Price of Bothell, said the ribs are to die for, and she knows her food. Her mother owns the well-known Maltby Cafe, Price said.

During the hubbub of filming for television, Bobby Nakihei had one question for the crew he said was of upmost importance.

How was the food?

"They said it was the best food ever," Mr. Nakihei said. "They didn't like it, they loved it."

For the owner, that was the most satisfying thing, he said.

<< Return to Reviews >>