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Get the 411 on Franky Fresh in Kaimukī

A new 1980s hip-hop inspired burger joint opens its doors in Kaimukī.


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The Marky mark is a burger gone Greek, with a lamb/beef burger, roasted peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese and tzatziki. 
Photos: steve czerniak

 

We like burgers. We like milkshakes. We like 1980s hip-hop. So it goes without saying that, when a burger joint opens with a slogan like “buns and shakes” and a name like “Franky Fresh,” we’re going to check it out. First off, the name is both an homage to the owner’s father as well as a nod to old-school urban slang, “funky fresh,” not meant to imply that it’s a hot dog joint.

 

Straight outta Kaimukī (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves; it won’t happen again) comes a new fast-casual burger place that, in spite of its cutesy adoration of all things ’80s hip-hop and pop, makes some good burgers and some really good milkshakes.

 

Before we even get to the food, though, let’s address the obvious. Owner Darien Provenza clearly has a thing for ’80s popular culture. Old two-cassette boom boxes hang on the walls along with photos and posters of everyone’s favorite 1980s hit-makers such as Blondie and Prince. The menus are printed on actual vinyl records, and televisions play decades-old music videos on loop. We tend to approach themed restaurants with a bit of caution, because they’re often more about the theme than the food. But we’re happy to report that, at Franky Fresh, that’s not the case.

 

The current menu of five burgers and four sandwiches is a solid offering of seriously rib-sticking meals at really decent prices. The burgers, all made with grass-fed Big Island beef, are thick and juicy and full of good, beefy flavor, and, though ours came overcooked, it didn’t suffer much for it. All the burgers and sandwiches come with fries, which include a choice of dipping sauces: roasted red pepper, wasabi, garlic and a spicy-mayo signature Franky Sauce, which also comes standard on the burgers. All the sauces are good, but the roasted red pepper is by far our favorite. A jar of that and a bucket of fries and we’re good.

 

How much fried food can you stack into a sandwich? The Heavy D aims to find out. 

Not that we wouldn’t go back for the burgers. We would, and we will. Especially the Marky Mark, which is a lamb and beef patty topped with roasted peppers, grilled onions, kalamata olives, feta cheese and tzatziki. It’s not a huge surprise that Franky nailed the Greek-inspired burger. His family owns the Fat Greek chain of restaurants, so he knows a little something about Greek flavors. (Franky Fresh actually shares the building with the Wai‘alae Avenue Fat Greek.) Our only issue with the burger is that, on a menu with items named for rappers with real street cred like The Notorious P.I.G. and the Heavy D, it should be called the Beastie Boy, not the Marky Mark. But that’s just our humble music-snob opinion.

 

And when a sandwich is called the Heavy D, we expect a certain level of over-the-top-ness. But this? This is a sandwich anomaly. Not because it’s overstuffed with everything you’d normally find on a bar food menu—buffalo chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, Jalapeño poppers, french fries—but because it’s actually edible, and tasty. We’ll probably stick with the burgers on future visits, but who knew that a veritable pūpū platter of fried foods on toasted French bread would actually taste good, and be (relatively) easy to eat?

 

What we did know going in was that we weren’t going to leave without trying the milkshakes. And Franky makes good milkshakes. Here, the restaurant takes a different approach to the cereal-infused-milk craze by blending a scoop of your favorite hanabata-days cereal right into a thick vanilla milkshake. The Cap’N Crunch shake is the very best of Saturday mornings in front of the TV. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a close second. They aren’t just good because they’re nostalgia in a frosted glass, they’re good, period. And by good, we mean DOPE. Yo.  (Sorry. We’re done.)

 

Franky Fresh, 3040 Wai‘alae Ave. (next to The Fat Greek), burgers and shakes $10–$14.95, milkshakes $7, open daily from 4 to 10 p.m., 734-0404

 

Join us for Cirque du Cuisine! Dine on circus-inspired dishes from 13 award-winning restaurants under the stars in Waikīkī at the 2016 Hale ‘Aina Awards Celebration. Get your tickets to the event now.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY KAWEHI HAUG

 

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