First Look: 10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Raising Cane’s
Get the scoop on the secret menu, how to avoid the line and more about Honolulu’s newest fast-food joint.
If you visit Raising Cane’s during peak hours, you’ll likely encounter a line out the door. Don’t be intimidated; it moves fairly quickly.
Photos: Terri Inefuku
I try to avoid long lines whenever possible, which means I tend to miss out on the hottest must-haves of the moment.
Dominique Ansel’s original cronut. The iPhone X. Bruno Mars concert tickets.
So, when Louisiana-based Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers opened to lines out the door, and at times around the block, I was wary. But in the name of Biting Commentary, I headed over to University Avenue on a late weekday morning, ready to brave the crowds and see what all the chicken-finger fuss was about.
The Box Combo is the restaurant’s most popular offering, and one I’d order again with some changes.
The verdict: While my meal wasn’t fancy, I enjoyed it. The chicken fingers were tender and juicy with a light, crisp coating. I was also content with the flavor, though I suspect some may find it bland. And the line? Not as bad as I expected, especially since (spoiler alert) there are ways to get around it.
Here are my tips for dining at Raising Cane’s like a pro.
The Sandwich Combo looks appealing, but I didn’t care for the Kaiser roll. I found the bread tasteless and slightly dry, which dulled the flavors of the chicken and sauce. Opt for the Texas toast ($1.15 extra) instead.
Want to beat the crowd? Head down at 11 a.m. on a weekday. During my visit, the customary line out the door didn’t appear until about 11:20 a.m., which was later, I’m told, than opening week when lines were constant from open to close. Even then, it moved fairly quickly. Diners on the weekday I visited told me their wait ranged between five and 10 minutes. On weekends, it’s busy from the moment it opens at 10 a.m. The slowest time is 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Don't want to wait in line at all? Grab some friends and call in a takeout order. They do takeout, but there’s a five-combo minimum. Call 465-3029 to place your order and skip the line.
Know your options. The restaurant’s slogan is “One Love,” and that love is chicken fingers. That’s all it sells: pieces of tenderloin marinated for 24 hours in a brine, then hand-battered in a light egg wash and flour-based batter, and cooked to order. There are five combos to choose from.
— The Box Combo ($9.99): Four chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast, coleslaw, Cane’s Sauce, and a regular drink. This is the restaurant’s most popular combo.
— The 3 Finger Combo ($8.99): Three chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast, Cane’s Sauce, and a regular drink.
— The Caniac Combo ($14.99): Six chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast, coleslaw, two Cane’s Sauces, and a large drink.
— The Sandwich Combo ($8.71): Three chicken fingers and lettuce tucked in a Kaiser roll smothered with Cane’s Sauce, with crinkle-cut fries and a regular drink.
— The Kids Combo ($6.51): Two chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, Cane’s Sauce, a kid’s drink (with milk and apple juice options), and an activity.
Always get the sauce. Other restaurants tend to spice the breading for their chicken. Not Raising Cane’s. Its chicken fingers are seasoned simply, because they’re meant to be dipped in Cane’s Sauce for a creamy kick of spice and tang. That’s fine with me—I like the sauce. The recipe is a secret and only managers are allowed to make it, but a quick Internet search leads me to believe it may contain mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper.
There’s a “secret” secret sauce. If you want a little more variety, ask for the off-menu honey mustard sauce. They keep containers of it behind the counter and provide it only upon request. Both sauces are made in-house throughout the day.
When it comes to Texas toast, ask for “BOB.” On its own, I didn’t find the Texas toast particularly memorable. It’s a thick slice of bread, lightly toasted and smothered on one side with garlic butter that, as a garlic aficionado, I could barely taste. But ask for butter on both sides and the toast turns into crispy, blissful bites of buttery, garlic goodness. You’ll thank me later.
Feel free to make substitutions. With all the combos, you can substitute your sides—coleslaw, fries or toast—for one another or an extra Cane’s Sauce. Personally, I’m not a fan of fries (how un-American, I know), so I’d substitute that for more coleslaw or another slice of Texas toast. Tip: If you get fries, make sure to order them extra crispy.
Trying to stay low-carb? Order your chicken “naked.” They’ll cook it without the batter. I didn’t get a chance to try this, though I suspect the meat, given the marinade, would retain the same light flavor and moisture.
Splurge on the lemonade. For a quarter more, you can get freshly squeezed lemonade sweetened with cane sugar. I found this surprisingly refreshing and not overly sweet.
Parking is free (for now). Enter the garage from Kahuna Lane, an alarmingly narrow but still two-way street, and park in one of 30 designated retail spaces inside. You’ll encounter an entrance gate and pay station, though the arm is up and no ticket-taking is necessary. Don’t worry, the restaurant will validate once rates go into effect, which I’m told won’t happen until sometime in the new year, but open parking is definitely a perk you can take advantage of now.
Raising Cane’s interior is bright, whimsical and filled with memorabilia that celebrate the restaurant’s history as well as the surrounding community.
Bonus: More Raising Cane’s locations are in the works. Can’t make it to the university area? That won’t be a problem, if you’re patient. More locations are planned for Hawaiʻi with both dine-in and drive-thru options. Look for locations in Mililani, Hawaiʻi Kai and Kapolei late next year.
While Raising Cane’s probably won’t be a regular dining spot for me, I plan on returning, and when I do, I know exactly what I’ll order: The Box Combo with extra slaw instead of fries, lemonade and my new friend, BOB.
Did you know: This particular Raising Cane’s actually set a record for first-day and first-week sales among the company’s non-drive-thru restaurants.
Raising Cane’s is at 2615 S. King St., and open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight, www.raisingcanes.com