When it comes to ethnic eats, I’m willing to travel long and far for great examples of interesting cuisines. Over the course of the past year, Ni Armor’s Hawaiian and Polynesian BBQ hit my foodie radar screen. Hawaiian and Polynesian eats are something I rarely run into, even when I lived in California, so after checking out some pictures online, my interest was piqued! So I waited for a day off and headed on out to the Burlington Food Hall, west of Chapel Hill…
Only about an hour’s ride from Raleigh, the Burlington Food Hall sits in a sleepy little town center, there’s some parking right out front and to the side, it shouldn’t be an issue if you visit. Inside there’s a main dining area, communal seating, bar to your left and Go Burrito to your right. Head on to the back of the building where you’ll find four other vendors along with Ni Armor’s. Their storefront is decorated with string lights all around and some Hawaiian scenery. An expansive menu overhead (in really small type) covers their array of musubi, rice bowls, soups, Hawaiian combo plates, grill items, desserts, and more. There are some sample pictures up front and the most interesting items to me are the barbeque chicken, ribs, pork, and Polynesian meatballs. Ni Armor’s Hawaiian and Polynesian BBQ is a woman-owned business and I’m pretty sure their owners are at the restaurant most days. They are a lovely and friendly couple, asking me if this is my first time trying Hawaiian food.
The food is cooked to order so expect at least a 10-minute wait. My musubi comes out first, a large block of warm rice topped with a slice of spam, wrapped in nori (seaweed wrap), and glazed with some barbeque sauce. Delicious and quite filling for an app! Next is my three-meat barbeque plate (beef, ribs, chicken) which comes with a dipping sauce and is very heavy. Popping open the container there are two large pieces of chicken, two pieces of beef (flank steak, I think), two long pieces of ribs (cut across the bone, galbi style), a scoop of macaroni salad, and rice. It’s a LOT of food for one person and I’m planning to break it out into two meals if I can help myself.
Out of the proteins, the barbeque chicken is probably my favorite. The meats are nicely glazed and charred but the chicken holds the flavor a bit better and it’s a hefty piece. Dunked into Ni Armor’s standard barbeque sauce is a delicious treat! My next favorite was the beef ribs which are long and thin with some fatty chew, yum! Take a bite of meat, dunk it into the sauce, add a forkful of rice or mac and cheese and you’ve got yourself some seriously good eating. Given how tasty and rich the meat at Ni Armor’s is, it’s great to have the carbs on the side for contrast.