Roll With It: Eighty Chicken Sandwiches Is a Cult Sensation in Kahuku
Only 80 sandwiches and only on Saturdays and Sundays.
Roll With It is a Frolic series about food trucks and trailers we’ve seen out and about. We’re tracking them down and trying dishes to bring you the 4-1-1.
Scrolling on Instagram, I stopped on an intriguing comment from our post about new restaurants that stood out among the dozens of drooling emojis. “Yo, I can think of a place…maybe up at Kahuku? With only 1 menu item? and only 80, Saturdays and Sundays? 🤔” It was made by none other than @eightychickensandwiches.
The contemplative emoji face that followed the comment mirrored my own. As soon as I hear about someone that makes one menu item and in limited quantity, my ears perk up. I immediately text Associate Editor Thomas Obungen, and of course, he’s been following them for over a year. We confirm our plans and set off on a Foodie Field Trip in a car packed with beach gear, some pūpū and ice in a cooler and excitement in our bellies. Our destination: Kahuku, for some fried chicken sandwiches. We find it tucked behind Giovanni’s outdoor eating area in a small grey trailer with a one-item menu etched onto a wooden honu.
Of course, inquisitive minds want to know: Why chicken sandwiches and why only 80? Owner Adam Wade moved to O‘ahu with his wife. A stay-at-home dad with experience as Boeing’s corporate chef, Wade has a serious love for southern fried chicken. He says one case of chicken breasts contains 80 pieces and it’s the amount he feels he can prepare and execute well on his own. He adds that his fried chicken isn’t particularly different, but it’s what anyone’s grandma in Atlanta would make at home: classic country-style.
At a glance:
The menu features one item: buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches served with a healthy heap of hand-cut fries and either juice or water. You can order your chicken breast dipped in spicy sauce, half-dipped, or naked, and you also have a choice of house-made ranch or blue cheese dressing.
- We go full spicy and pray that it won’t destroy us in the sweltering heat of summer. The sauce turns out to be a lip-smacking blend of deep warm spice and tangy vinegar with a rounded sweetness. Read: Nothing to be afraid of. The black pepper in the dredging pops through with a distinct earthy spice. The crust is crunchy and the double dunk ensures every crag and crevice gets covered with the thick, buttery-bodied sauce. The brioche stays together even as the sauce seeps into the bun while the pickle chips and crunch of the lettuce complete the texture tandem.
- The sandwich dipped in the ranch is good, but it’s the blue cheese that wins us over. This dressing is creamy and sultry with chunks of high-quality blue cheese and lots of cracked black pepper. In combination with the spicy sandwich, it makes me dance.
- You guys, the fries. I have not had fries like these on O‘ahu before. They’re thrice fried: first to blanch; second to cook; and third to crisp right before plating. Wade’s method results in the crispiest fry you’ll ever try. These are ethereal yet delight you with starchy, potatoey goodness. However, you must eat them immediately, which is true of all freshly fried treats.
- Go early because you don’t know how fast 8o chicken sandwiches sell on a Saturday and you don’t want to drive up to Kahuku only to be disappointed.
I could go on about this one-sandwich wonder but I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I promise you’ll be thinking about it weeks later.
How it rolls
- Where: 56-505 Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku, behind Giovanni’s Shrimp
- When: On Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to sellout
- Payment: Cash or credit card
- Follow: @eightychickensandwiches
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