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Best Hawaiian plate lunch in Bay Area

  • r

need help.

I have tried a few Hawaiian plate lunches.
know any in the East Bay such as Hayward and Fremont.


*L and L

let me know where to go!


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  1. Kilohana Grill in San Ramon is usually good. They have a special Lau Lau and Kahlua Pork plate on Friday and Saturdays. Love their potato salad too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: toofacetious

      I second Kilohana Grill, and the lau lau/kahlua pork plate. An Emeryville branch should be open any day now.

      1. re: Debbie M.

        Where in Emeryville???

        1. re: Brian Stack

          I just checked their website, and they didn't have it posted yet (but it says it will be open in March/April). However, the PDF of their menu says 4115 San Pablo, which I think puts it in the same strip as Arizmendi.

          Link: http://www.kilohanagrill.com/Emeryvil...

          1. re: Debbie M.

            It is open now, though I've only eaten at the San Ramon location which is one of my regular lunch haunts. I really like the BBQ chicken, which has a teryaki-like sauce. They cut the chicken into strips and it has a nice char-grilled flavor. Family owned and operated (with some hired help) and the service is very friendly.

    2. v

      Drove all the way down E. 14th/ International Blvd. yesterday, saw three spots between Hayward and Oakland. Look for Wiki-Wiki and Hawaiian BBQ, can't remember the other. Hope that helps.

      1. If this is the the one hidden in a tiny strip mall than I was impressed with their friendliness and good food.
        Sista's Cafe 983 Manor Blvd. San Leandro 351-4010
        Of the chains, Waikiki BBQ is average at best in El Cerrito, better in Berkeley. L&Ls unremarkable. Each chain has the original island secret recipes, but the cooks at each location differ wildly. Ohana at Appian Way in Pinole is the yummiest on this side of the EastBay.

        1. Hawaiian Drive Inn on Hesperian in Hayward is ok. Its in a strip mall near Mr. Chau's, between Winton Ave and Jackson Ave.

          Similar to L&L. Decent portion size, especially the Chicken Katsu. Rice can be dry. I like the Aloha Saimin, which has spam, chicken and egg in it.

          1. Mahalo BBQ in Milpitas at McCarthy Ranch is very good except for the katsu sauce which is not like anything I grew up with.

            L&L on Calaveras sucks

            Waikiki BBQ in Livermore is ok but they didn't use any white pepper or anything else in their mac salad other than mayo & macaroni.

            Kilohana grille...what's up bbq chicken using breast meat? This place has a plate lunch concept which caters to mainland tastes.

            4 Replies
            1. re: petaldust

              I went to Kilohana on San Pablo in Emeryville. Man the Kalua Pig in the styrofoam container looked bland and bare. No bruddah sized portions but not bad. It was okay, a little too salty and that usually doesn't bug me.

              The specials are also odd, like you can only get pig and cabbage on Weds...but straight kalua everyday. Made no sense, like the chicken breast. To be fair however didn't try their breakfast but there was a low Aloha vibe.

              For really good bbq/teri chicken, Da Kitchen in Mountain View is awesome and they use da thigh. Very close to what they serve on Maui.

              Hukilau in SF, SJ and PA is good and up to standard but in the $8-9+ range and more a sit down place.

              Re: L&L, inconsistent place to place and even within each store. I had good plate lunch and went back to the same branch and it was bad. They do however serve a PILE of food and the katsu tends to turn out well.

              1. re: ML8000

                I stopped by Da Kitchen 2 months ago and it looked closed. The kitchen was cleaned out as were the drinks in the coolers. It's possible they were remodling but I'm assuming they're closed for good. Quite a shame really since they had really good kaluha pig and lau lau.

                1. re: Porthos

                  That is a shame. I wonder if the proliferation of Hawaiian chains are killing off the Mom and Pop places. You know you use to have to hunt, search or drive to get plate lunch before the chains took off.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Da Kitchen is actually a chain of sorts. The Mountain View location is/was the 3rd location. The other 2 are on Maui, one in Kahului, the other in Kihei. The webiste still shows the MV location, but I tried the number and it was disconnected. The site also shows a "new location" in San Diego, but there's only a picture.

                    I've eaten at the one in Kihei, and it was a true Hawaiian plate lunch. I highly recommend it.

                    I agree that Kilohana is different, but I think they do a better job than the chains like L&L. The family that owns/runs Kilohana is from Kauai. The food may not be exactly what you'd find in the places in the Islands, but its good, and they are very nice people.

            2. Hawaiian Walk-In in downtown Oakland (15th St. between Broadway & Franklin) has good Korean BBQ short ribs as well as chicken katsu.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Eugene Park

                Is it still open? I remember seeing it shuttered.

                But they're definitely on island time there so bring lots of change to feed the meter, or better yet call ahead.

                1. re: usr.bin.eat

                  Hmmm, when did you see it shuttered? Last time I ordered from there was a few months ago IIRC. I'll have to call them for takeout soon to see if they're still around. They seemed to be doing well enough at lunchtime.

                  1. re: Eugene Park

                    It was a year ago so they're still open. I don't work in that area anymore so I haven't been back since.

                    It's good to support a little mom n pop operation with all the chains that have moved in.

                  1. re: Eugene Park

                    Just tried Hawaiian Walk-In in downtown Oakland for the first time for lunch. It's decent. Has a nice traditional menu of kalua pig, teri chicken, katsu, mahi mahi, etc. with two scoops rice and 1 scoop mac salad. I ordered the kalua pig plate. Kalua pig was nice and salty but I wished they took the time to shred up the pieces more instead of having clumps of pork. It was served over a bed of shredded boiled green cabbage, which I thought was weird because why not just mix it up and sell it as kalua cabbage? The mac salad was the least favorite thing on the plate. It was watery and bland although it looked authentic.

                    Overall, I can make kalua pig similar to that at home. But times when I don't want to spend hours slow cooking a pork shoulder, it's a nice alternative to be able to pick up take out here. And it's nice to have another lunch spot in downtown Oakland which doesn't have too many places for reasonably priced lunches.

                    Hawaiian Walk-In, 402-404 15th St. at Franklin. (510) 839-9391. Opened M-F, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sat.) or 6 p.m. (Sun.)

                  2. The dinky place in Redwood City on El Camino, the block above Broadway. Specifically their teriyaki porkchops, two big porkchops, obligatory 2 scoops plus one, I have to have this lunch at least 3 times a year.

                    1. There's a new Hawaiian place on CLement and 9th - anyone tried it?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Maya

                        Eva's Hawaiian Cafe, 731 Clement Street at 9th Ave. 415.221.2087 finally opens after months and months of construction and building permit hassels over the L&L name and number of tables/seating... Saimin is on the menu and Portugese Bean Soup ... that's tempting me. The plates look tasty - the two scoops of rice are big scoops, and the chicken katsu is hot from the kitchen...for pupus, the ahi poke —a pile of big chunks well-seasoned and peppery ...even the Aloha shoyu is made in Hawaii. Ask about the Daily Specials.

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          Eva's is great! I eat there every day! Eva and her family are the nicest people~So nice that you know Clement Street hasn't jaded them yet~lol.
                          They have the best Chili-Mayo Fries and the best low carb plates. Their BBQ mix plate is my favorite. Their hamburgers are also a favorite and the Saimin I really enjoyed. All the prices are more than reasonable. The one thing I like is that they have a grill~They don't microwave! (Yes, there are places on Clement that have frozen Hawaiian BBQ plates that are microwaved-gross!)
                          Eva's also have a 100% rating from the Health Dept. I really hope that they do well!

                      2. High Bar Hawaiian BBQ. It's the only I've had and it's in Brentwood in the East Bay.
                        It was good, but I'm just not a fan of Hawaiian BBQ. It's very very popular though, so it's proabbly really good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Flavelle

                          I just ate at Eva's after seeing that it was recommended on this year's SF Bargain Bites/Cheap Eats. I was impressed since we had, quite possibly, the best Hawaiian plates I've had (outside of Hawaii) in a long time. We tried the Kahlua Pork & Lau Lau combo, the Kalbee (Korean Short Rib), and the Mahi Mahi plates. All yummy, plenty of food (including the obligatory 2 rice scoops and macaroni scoop). I even managed to order a trio of Musubi (with spam, pork katsu, and chicken teriyaki). I liked the sizes of the Musubi individually and really like the Trio of flavors. Even the waitress was surprised we ordered this on top of our 3 full plates. But there's always take away boxes!

                          The ribs were particularly "Hawaiian style" in taste, they reminded me of the ribs my Mom used to make us at home (she's originally from the Island), as opposed to tasting more like the Korean style Kalbee.

                          I'll have to go back for a breakfast... I lover Portuguese sausage and egg. Yum!

                        2. Here's a listing of a bunch (all?) of the Hawaiian food joints in the Bay Area http://pw1.netcom.com/~halkop/food.html , though it includes sit-down places in addition to plate lunch places.

                          I like the katsu at Hawaiian Drive in in Daly City. Actually, the actual meat isn't bad, but it's the sauce I really like.

                          1. Anyone tried the place on 19th Ave near Taraval? Used to be a coffee shop on the corner, now has a palapa-type awning and big signs advertising plate lunch. There's also a new place on Noriega around 23rd.

                            The place on Valencia & 22nd never got going, the signs are down and nothing appears to be happening there.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bernalgirl

                              Tried it a few months back for lunch. Ordered chicken katsu loco moco and I got a chicken katsu plate with a fried egg on top, with katsu sauce on the side. (Which is just *wrong*, if you're unfamiliar with the concept!) I got the impression the owners aren't from Hawaii and were just trying to copy dishes they've seen at L&L, which is OK as long as they do it successfully. They don't. We always drive past it and we've never seen more than a handful of people in there; we were giving it until the end of the year but it's still open, surprisingly. We won't be going back.

                            2. I've only had the East Bay places north of Oakland. Of those I prefer Island (?). It's the place in Albany/Berkeley at the corner of Gilman and San Pablo. Ohana in Pinole would be a close second.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: J T

                                What do you recommend from that place? (I can't remember the name either, but I live near there and am curious about it.)

                                1. re: J T

                                  I found their kalua pig dry and tasteless. Chicken teriyaki and fried fish pretty good, though. The kalua pig at Hawaiian Barbecue (?) on Shattuck near Haste is much better.

                                2. what is a Hawaiian plate lunch?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: foodfanUSA

                                    One scoop mac (macaroni salad), two scoops rice (steamed white), and something good and meaty to go with. i Googled for the heck of it, and here's something you can read too:


                                  2. I haven't been there in awhile, but if you're north of the Carquinez bridge, you could always stop by Hula Hut in Benicia. They also have Filipino menu items and some nice tasting cakes.


                                    1. I really like Island Hawaiian BBQ on San Pablo & Gilman in Berkeley. It's far better than Waikiki or Kilohana in IMHO. The quality is good and the quanities are excellent. I have a pretty big appetite, and pretty much anything you order there is under $8 or 9 bucks and can feed 2. I don't know if they have any other locations but it's a real mom & pop set up.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: nicedragonboy

                                        What do you recommend? Meemster, above, liked the chicken teriyaki and the fried fish, but not the kalua pig. Do you agree?

                                        (BTW, I went to Vanessa's, enjoyed it, and wondered...do you work at the real estate place or the hair salon?)

                                        1. re: Glencora

                                          at the State Farm office actually, right on the corner. funny, i had the exact opposite experience with the kalua pork as meemster. I liked it far better at Island than at Wikiki on Shattuck. I also I like their short ribs, chicken, hawaiian fried rice, and spam musubi! great deal for a hot snack at only $2.50 for 2 big rolls. Strangely enough, they also have the only macaroni salad that I've liked at any Hawaiian BBQ I've ever gone to. I can't point out what's good about it, but I like it.

                                      2. I've been to Island Hawaiian a handful of times - it isn't bad at all. I don't mind the macaroni salad, but why suffer with any of it when they will sub another scoop of rice. Portions are generous. I think the kalua pig is pretty good (although it needs more seasoning). I've also had the chicken katsu salad, which is actually 2 big pieces of chicken over iceberg lettuce - the salad part is almost a waste, but the chicken is good. I think I had the fried rice awhile back and it was fine. The misspellings on the side wall menus are good entertainment while you wait.