Listen. I wasn't expecting it either.
Midweek in Redding I had gone out to Trader Joes to get some fancy snacks, and then Safeway for some more mundane groceries. It was dinner time. Across the parking lot from Safeway? A Hawaiian BBQ place.
I love me some Hawaiian plate lunch. Two scoops of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and some kind of protein. Usually chicken, though I've been known to go for a Loco Moco in my day.
My phone told me the place couldn't be that bad. They had something in the high-four-out-of-five ratings range on Yelp. Worth a shot? Sure!
I walked in, told them I traveled full time and was in town for a week. I said, and I quote, "what's the one thing you want to be judged on? The one thing that determines whether I recommend this place when people ask what's good in Redding."
BBQ Mix. Sub chicken katsu for the BBQ chicken.
Oh. My. Gosh. Hecking. Gosh. They were right.
This isn't hyperbole. I've eaten a lot of Hawaiian BBQ. It's one of my favorite cuisines. And to date the absolute best I've ever had is Niu Hawaiian BBQ in Redding, CA. Don't ask me how. It just is.
I ended up going back on Saturday while hanging out with some friends who happen to be local to Redding. They'd never had Hawaiian, and I was glad to be able to introduce them to a local gem that they'll get to appreciate more often than I will. On my second trip I tried the garlic chicken, a chef's special that had been the "also ran" the first time I went in. I would heartily recommend it to anyone that likes garlic, chicken, or food that tastes good in general.
It's entirely possible the food was so good I've changed my travel plans to stop in Redding for another week just to get more of it. (Well, and also because I don't want to have to drive from Sacramento to Eugene in one day. We'll see. It's still up in the air. But I want that Loco Moco. I want it real bad.)
... Maybe this should be a food blog.