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Plate Lunch on O'ahu: Recommendations and Warnings

j
Jazzaloha Oct 8, 2010 07:17 PM

Here's a thread to talk about your favorite place lunch places, and maybe even warning about places not to go to. Also, I hope people can talk about new plate lunch places they've checked out.

Yesterday, I went to Koi (on Dillingham, near OCCC) for the second time. I had their bento (a little under $10) which came with steak, garlic ahi and garlic chicken. The steak were cut up into pieces like they do at Time's Supermarket or Blazin' Steaks (but they're a little better I thought). The garlic ahi is basically deep fried in panko with a wasabi cream sauce drizzled on the top (You might want to try and ask for a side dish, although they put just the right amount for me.) Finally, the garlic chicken is in the mold of Mitsuken and Sugoi: very crispy, not very oily.

All in in, it was very tasty and well-prepared. I'd definitely go back. They also serve brown rice here, which I like.

Another place: Kahai Street Kitchen.

I didn't go here recently, but I almost went today as they had some good items on their menu. (You can see their website.) They had a prime rib for under $10, shiso and nori wrapped ahi katsu stuffed with crab ($9), a combo with the ahi kastsu and steak; pork trio (guava bbq ribs, pork chops and polish sausage ($9) and some other stuff. I like this place, but there's only street parking, and they're open only T-F. This is one of the better plate lunch places, imo.

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Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI 96819

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  1. j
    Jazzaloha RE: Jazzaloha Feb 4, 2011 12:02 AM

    What do you guys think about Kahai Street Kitchen? I think they're good, but they have a different menu every day. They're Friday specials look really good, too. I'm not sure if the quality (or the hassle of finding parking) is worth it for out of towners, but if I worked near there, I wouldn't mind eating there on a regular basis.

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    Kahai Street Kitchen
    237 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI 96819

    1. m
      macaraca RE: Jazzaloha Feb 4, 2011 06:02 AM

      One of my favorite plate lunches is the Furikake Ahi plate at Nico's - Pier 38. Comes with green salad, and is healthier and tastier than most. Is in the same Kalihi Kai area as previous posts. I think it runs in the $9-10 range.

      3 Replies
      1. re: macaraca
        m
        macaraca RE: macaraca Feb 4, 2011 09:30 AM

        By the way, 4 Kings Kitchen has just opened next to Kokua Market on King Street in Mo'ili'ili...they are in the former Buffalo Wings place...I walk by there all the time and see they are claiming upscale plate lunch stuff with local ingredients, but a sports bar ambiance which makes me think twice about going in. Has anyone tried it yet?

        1. re: macaraca
          j
          Jazzaloha RE: macaraca Feb 4, 2011 12:39 PM

          Nope. Let us know how it is if you try it.

          1. re: macaraca
            KaimukiMan RE: macaraca Feb 8, 2011 10:21 PM

            I just came back from 4 Kings Kitchen in Moili'ili, here is a link to my thoughts on it. I enjoyed it.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/764965#

        2. KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Feb 4, 2011 07:06 PM

          OK, there are a ton of places claiming to be “plate lunch”, but come on... the Pineapple Room at Ala Moana? Goma Ichi Ramen? Sorabol? Libby Manapua? I don’t think so. Great places, each of them, but not “Plate Lunch.” I’m not gonna limit my replies to places that give you a white cardboard box and wooden chopsticks, because a lot of places don’t do that any more. But if you can’t get a couple of scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad, it’s not plate lunch. I’m also excluding places that are mostly Okazuya, that’s a whole different family. Also places that are primarily table service diners (Big City, Like Like, Jake’s hideaway), again not bad places, just not ‘plate lunch’.

          No doubt I have left out some important places. After all, I do eat other kinds of food.

          PLATE LUNCH - CHAINS

          Ziippy’s: The ‘big brother’ of the plate lunch business. Not the best, far from the worst, reasonable but not generous portions, a little on the expensive side, but very reliable. Best known for their fried chicken (no longer broasted), their chili frank plate, and the infamous chili spaghetti with garlic bread and rice. They generally do a really good job on the fresh fish special of the day, and following up with a look in the bakery case makes up for a lot. The specials are usually good. A bit outside of ‘plate lunch’ the portuguese bean soup is always good too. Avoid the chicken katsu. It’s like a rock. It is the one thing they totally miss the boat on. Zippy’s qualifies as plate lunch because it’s takeout/counter service far outweighs the dine-in traffic.

          Grace’s: Grace’s was the first place I ever had plate lunch, and it was from the lunchwagon at UH. Hamburger steak, gravy on the rice... my firends ordered it for me, along with a can of passion-orange. That was my lunch 4 days out of 7 for the next year, although over time i did try more and more items. They still make a good hamburger steak, some of the best katsu on the island, and have arguably the largest regular menu around. For specials the Hawaiian Plate on Fridays is really good, and a good value. I also like it when they have meatloaf. As with most plate lunch places, avoid the hamburger and fries, stick to what they do best. Two scoops rice with TWO scoops of mac salad (ok, small scoops.. or you can get greens) The chili is on the sweet side, plan to put some tabasco on it before you walk away.

          L&L: Most stuff here is grilled, which would make it healthy.. until you eat the mac salad. Want some macaroni in that mayo sir? Bleah. Some people must like it, i think it is the most disgusting mac salad in Hawaii. It’s usually not even cold. Count me out on L&L.

          Da Kitchen: One on Oahu and one on Maui make it a chain. Upscale, a little expensive, portions that approach the old Masa’s, good quality food. Limited parking, and the place is usually packed at lunchtime.

          PLATE LUNCH - INDEPENDENT

          Rainbow Drive In: Possibly the best known plate lunch on the planet, I’ve met people here from places as diverse as Tokyo, Zurich, Sidney, New Orleans, and Durban. The most popular items are Chili Dog plate, BBQ Steak (teriyaki style), Boneless Chicken with Gravy, and Roast Pork (sun, wed, fri). Even the fries here aren’t too bad, and they make a mean Loco Moco

          St. Louis Drive in: It’s really close to me, but I rarely go. It seems to be a big nostalgia place, and it has been around forever. I thought everything, even the gravy, was greasy. I know that it is a special place for a lot of people, but next time Imma gonna stick to the bento... thats pretty good.

          Tsukenjo’s: Ono Roast Pork. Not much more needs to be said. (lunchwagon or lunch house) Quality may not be what it once was, depends who you ask. As a side note it the lunch house is said to be the oldest wood commercial building in Honolulu, although it has been altered many times over the decades.

          HK’s: Well liked by several hounds, best known for the yum yum chicken, and roast pork. pretty broad menu. Parking sucks, the food doesn’t.

          Sugoi: Huge portions, good food, decent prices, especially for what you get. Best known for their Garlic Chiken, the have many other good menu items (pork chop for one.) This place is a definite must-try.

          Mitsu-ken: Garlic Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Garlic Chicken. A cross between a okazu and plate lunch place, they open before you wake up (almost) and sell out early. They do a lot of catering as well. Hard as it is to believe the garlic chicken may be better than sugoi’s, they have sure been making it longer. I’m sure they have other menu items. They must.

          Bob’s Giant BBQ: Burnt Meat, caveman style as Tim Allen would say. Mainland people would say it’s not BBQ, although a couple of items do have red bbq sauce instead of japanese or korean style. So good. Even the hamburgers and fries are good here, but the plate lunches are the specialty. Large portions, reasonable prices, Mediocre but pleasant service. This used to be a small chain, as far as I know only the Kalihi location remains. Very busy at lunchtime.

          Kakaako Kitchen: Upscale, barely squeeks under the wire as far as being plate lunch, but good food, and you do get rice and mac salad (or greens.) and it is served in disposable containers.

          Nico’s Pier 38: Again, barely qualifies as plate lunch, does it have mac salad? OK, I just like it and it needs to be here. Some of the best seafood in Honolulu, and at a good price.

          Byrons Drive-In: Another one that has been around forever, gravy on everything. A huge menu, bigger even than Grace’s. You can feel your arteries hardening as you eat, and it’s open 24 hours. Don’t forget a slush float or a green river to wash it down with, or some battered fried pickles or zucchini on the side.

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          Kakaako Kitchen
          1200 Ala Moana Blvd # 135, Honolulu, HI

          Da Kitchen
          925 Isenberg St, Honolulu, HI 96826

          6 Replies
          1. re: KaimukiMan
            manomin RE: KaimukiMan Feb 4, 2011 07:41 PM

            I must concur with your criteria for this "plate lunch" thread. I also agree with your comments on the places listed. A couple notes, Nico's does not have mac salad. You get a choice of Nalo Greens or white or brown rice. I am completely a huge fan of Tsukenjo's. The Lunch House on Cooke street (the original location.) I also love their meatloaf sandwiches. Pure and simple. Meatloaf, mayo, ketchup a piece of iceberg on a hamburger bun, what a delight. I am wondering though where the red lunchwagon is. It used to be parked by the furniture store next to Sports Authority. They had said they were retiring that after so many years of hard work for both branches and were doing the Lunch House only. Have you seen the wagon and where? I'm so there if you say it's back! Say it's so! :-)

            1. re: KaimukiMan
              j
              Jazzaloha RE: KaimukiMan Feb 8, 2011 10:24 PM

              Awesome work, K-Man. I'll try to come back later and comment. (I think I mostly agree with much of what you wrote.)

              1. re: KaimukiMan
                c
                curiousgeo RE: KaimukiMan Feb 9, 2011 09:12 AM

                Wow KM, if you ate at Grace's lunchwagon at UH you go back a long way! Those lines used to stretch all the way down Metcalf at lunchtime. My regulars were the teri hamburger or pork cutlet plate with extra mac salad if I was really hungry.

                My favorite memory of Grace's was in high school. We would go over after school and they would throw together a plate of whatever was leftover for the day, 10 cents, luck of the draw. Had some incredible after school snacks that way, fried rice, chow fun, a little hamburger steak, a slice of teri beef, curry stew, whatever they had.

                The drive in is fine, but for me it never equaled the original lunchwagon in taste when the parents ran the operation.

                1. re: curiousgeo
                  KaimukiMan RE: curiousgeo Feb 9, 2011 09:26 AM

                  I have always wondered why the lunchwagon tasted better myself. most of my friends don't agree, they say we were just hungrier back then. i think the pork cutlet was probably the second type it tried. And yes, it was 35 years ago. But you obviously go back much further than that. 10 cents? Wow - even for 'leftovers', and I'm sure they gave plenty.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                    c
                    curiousgeo RE: KaimukiMan Feb 9, 2011 09:49 AM

                    Yeah, the leftovers were generous, not a whole plate, but a bit more than half for a dime.

                    By the way, St. Louis Drive In is pretty good. I like their fresh corned beef and cabbage, roast turkey, teri ahi belly and of course their bentos. If you want something unusual try their deluxe japanese plate, maybe not quite up to restaurant standard, but pretty amazing for a plate lunch place.

                    1. re: curiousgeo
                      KaimukiMan RE: curiousgeo Feb 9, 2011 10:07 AM

                      ah, the cry for additional research is endless.
                      I'll have to get back to you on St. Louis Drive-In

              2. j
                Jazzaloha RE: Jazzaloha Mar 8, 2011 10:02 PM

                Aiea Bowl

                If you didn't know they've renovated and added a restaurant--which serves neo-plate lunch and other diner-ish food (burgers and pizza). Dining is equivalent to dining in at Big City Diner or Zippy's, but they do serve mac salad and two scoops of rice with their entres, so I'm counting them as a plate lunch place.

                They're on the pricier side (around $9-$12), though. Known for their tasty chicken, which is similar to Mitsu-ken and Tsugoi's garlic chicken. They also have a furikake ahi and salmon and some other stuff that I can't remember now. They also have some decent desserts--although not cheap.

                My theory about the higher price is that, like a movie theater, they're making money off of the bowlers who hang out and inevitably want something to munch on. The food is pretty good here, though--better than your average grease pit plate lunch place.

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                Big City Diner
                3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jazzaloha
                  KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 8, 2011 11:22 PM

                  +1

                  I always forget about Aiea Bowl, but I've been a couple of times and Jazz is right on the money on this one. Great job on the fish there too.

                  1. re: Jazzaloha
                    m
                    macaraca RE: Jazzaloha Mar 9, 2011 03:27 PM

                    I liked the chow at Aiea Bowl too. Don't you think the higher prices are reasonable when you get table service, silverware, and food served on a real plate instead of Styrofoam?

                    1. re: macaraca
                      j
                      Jazzaloha RE: macaraca Mar 9, 2011 08:03 PM

                      Well, I guess it depends on how much you value table service, etc. (They were really crowded and we had to wait quite a bit before our waiter came over. It was a little better as the meal progressed, though.) However, when you're eating food that you could get cheaper in a take-out place, you sort of feel like you're getting a little ripped off. (Think of the restaurant prices of Zippy's, particularly in the restaurant versus on take-out.)

                      I will say that the quality of food is better than your typical plate lunch, place (similar to Big City Diner).

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                      Big City Diner
                      3569 Waialae Ave Ste 3, Honolulu, HI 96816

                      1. re: Jazzaloha
                        KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 9, 2011 09:53 PM

                        "when you're eating food that you could get cheaper in a take-out place . . ."

                        but the thing is, you wouldn't get food that good in most take-out places, and you are always going to pay extra for table service. I think you pretty much hit the mark on your initial review. Very good food, a little more than a plate lunch (face it, take out at zippys is in the $8-$10 range also, more for the specials or the fresh fish), but all in all I believe a better value overall considering the quality of the food. But yeah, the service isn't great, in fact its not really good. Oh well, it is after all a bowling alley.

                  2. KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 15, 2011 09:03 PM

                    maybe i'm expecting too much.....

                    I went to Grace's for lunch today, one of the specials was teri-chicken. I haven't had Grace's teri-chicken in years, I guess I don't go on tuesdays very often. It was seriously disappointing. It looked like they had simply grilled and sliced the chicken thigh, then dumped the teri sauce over it. The sauce was fine, but the chicken clearly had not marinated in it at all, nor had it been cooked with it. Sad, sad, sad.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                      j
                      Jazzaloha RE: KaimukiMan Mar 15, 2011 11:43 PM

                      I never tried their teri chicken and I don't think I ever would. My feeling with Grace's is that besides the chicken katsu and lemon chicken--everything else is basically typical plate lunch quality (which is not that great, when you think about it; I do like their roast pork with brown gravy, though). However, to be fair, I haven't tried a lot of other things on the menu, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

                      1. re: Jazzaloha
                        KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 16, 2011 12:22 AM

                        the meat loaf is pretty good, not fantastic, but good. The chili is on the sweet side, but with a few healthy shakes of tabasco, its good. The roast turkey is generally good, and I like the kalua&cabbage just fine. Spaghetti is not bad either..not great but I've had a lot worse. The sweet chili / korean chicken is good too. And yes Jazz, we agree...the katsu is the best they have. Was just really disappointed in the teri chicken.

                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                          j
                          Jazzaloha RE: KaimukiMan Mar 16, 2011 12:34 AM

                          I'm not necessarily saying the other entres are terrible--just that I expect the quality to be similar to many other plate lunch places. I don't think I've tried their sweet chili/korean chicken, but I think that could be good. Have you tried their lemon chicken? I think it was unique and one of the better lemon chickens I've tried.

                    2. j
                      Jazzaloha RE: Jazzaloha Mar 16, 2011 12:39 AM

                      OK, here's a key question that needs to be answered for all out-of-towners--and I would like all the people who have eaten at this place to respond--positive or negative, because I think this is a relatively important question when it comes to plate lunch. And the question is:

                      Should you go to eat at Rainbow's Drive-In?

                      If you've done research on plate lunch, you've heard of this place, and if you're interested in trying a plate lunch, you've probably heard that this is the place to try. Here's my response. If you really value cheap and speedy service (this is a take out place, though), this is a place to try. But if quality is more what you're about, then I don't think Rainbow's is worth the stomach space. It's not terrible (although I went there recently and the food was surprisingly bland, even for their standards); it's fine. But if you're a foodie flying in to O'ahu, I don't think it's the top priority plate lunch place.

                      I encourage others to weigh in--agree or disagree--so that you can help out-of-towners make a decision on this question.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Jazzaloha
                        KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 16, 2011 12:55 AM

                        to misappropriate REM: "Oh no I've said too much. I haven't said enough. I thought that I heard you laughing..."

                        No question this is gourmand not gourmet. I am a little less harsh about it than Jazz, but in principle he has a point. This is food to stick to your ribs, in portions designed to expand your every measurement. At the same time, i think it is pretty tasty. The BBQ steak (thin sliced teri-beef) has a nice shoyu/sweet favor, not overly salty or sweet. The boneless chicken should be crisper (breaded chicken thigh), but hey.. .its gonna be drowned in brown gravy, and its reasonably moist. The roast pork when they have it is at least as good as tsukenjo's. It would not be on my list of the most flavorful culinary experiences, but it ranks pretty high as far as experiencing the basis of what grew into local fusion cuisine, and was the de-facto meal that generations of field and cannery workers ate, not to mention university students. It is the 'everyday' food of Hawaii. It all depends on what you are looking for.

                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                          j
                          Jazzaloha RE: KaimukiMan Mar 16, 2011 01:05 AM

                          Ah, K-man's post reminds me of an important caveat I forgot to mention: I've only tried a few things at this place. The mixed plate (which I think comes with the boneless chicken, teri-beef and fish) and the loco-moco. (I didn't care for the bbq beef, however. )They are also one of the few remaining places that serve slush float--strawberry slush with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

                          Also, while I agree with K-Man that the food here is not upscale, I sort of feel like you can get better quality of this blue-collar type of food. Yes, there's the "white collar" version at places like Kakaako Kitchen, but I'd choose Grace's Inn for their chicken katsu or HK's for the teri chicken (or teri bbq anything). That's just my opinion, of course. There's no right or wrong. (Hopefully, more people will weigh in with their opinions, as this will give readers good information to make up their own minds.)

                          K-Man, I'll keep their roast pork in mind the next time I go here.

                          -----
                          Kakaako Kitchen
                          1200 Ala Moana Blvd # 135, Honolulu, HI

                          Grace's Inn
                          2919 Kapiolani Blvd Unit 20, Honolulu, HI 96826

                          1. re: Jazzaloha
                            KaimukiMan RE: Jazzaloha Mar 16, 2011 02:05 AM

                            roast pork is a special, i think it's thursdays and sunday, but i'm not sure.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                              c
                              curiousgeo RE: KaimukiMan Mar 16, 2011 10:53 AM

                              The bbq pork and pork cutlet plates are pretty good at Rainbow. I also order the portuguese sausage, eggs with chili on the rice occasionally. Plate lunches aren't for everyone and I agree with both your comments. They're meant to be fast and filling, not a true dining experience though they can be very tasty when done right.

                              Sorry to read of your chicken plate at Gracie's KM. That was a bit sad to hear, but as you and I agreed earlier, the original lunch wagon was the best!

                        2. re: Jazzaloha
                          o
                          Ogawak RE: Jazzaloha Apr 19, 2011 09:46 AM

                          As someone who lived here a little while and visits family every year, I would weigh in here that Rainbow's is the ultimate plate lunch experience on Oahu and in Hawaii. You might find something better elsewhere, as in Grace's for chicken katsu. I really like Rainbow's mahi and their chicken. The price is right, the locals all come here, and you can walk down to get a Waiola shave ice, although I much prefer Ailana. I think any first timer to Hawaii looking for plate lunch needs to come to Rainbow's.

                          1. re: Ogawak
                            manomin RE: Ogawak Apr 19, 2011 01:13 PM

                            "Boneless, gravy all over!"

                            1. re: Ogawak
                              RWCFoodie RE: Ogawak Apr 22, 2011 08:30 AM

                              +1 for Ailana (I know, this thread is about plate lunch not shave ice...) but we really liked it last year. House-made syrups, mochi, etc. - main thing is they are really nice people!!!

                            2. re: Jazzaloha
                              c
                              Clinton RE: Jazzaloha Apr 23, 2011 08:11 AM

                              Went back to the islands recently and decided to retry Rainbows. Haven't been there since we left the islands many years ago. Was kinda disappointed at the quality of the food compared to the past. Maybe it was a bad day but the food seemed bland to me. Had the pork cutlet smothered with gravy (which was a lot quantity wise) but the taste wasn't there. The mac salad was OK, but all in all, nothing special. Maybe I was dwelling on the past when plate lunches seemed much tastier like the old days of Chunky's and Kyle's Drive Ins, and also the Ala Moana/Kewalo Basin catering trucks. I miss the old flavors of curry stew, teri plate, hot dogs with beans and rice, veal cutlet, etc. Maybe I'll try Rainbows again some time?

                              1. re: Clinton
                                j
                                Jazzaloha RE: Clinton Apr 23, 2011 08:39 AM

                                I've always had a low opinion of Rainbows, but I have also acknowledged that they were cheap and really get your order out quick. Despite this, I do like their gravy--which has a chilli powder flavor that I like. However, I went there about a month ago, and the food was extremely bland--moreso than I remember, too.

                                Again, if speedy service and low prices is what you want, Rainbows is a good place to go to. (Their loco moco is good, too.) But I'm thinking most foodies value quality over speedy service and low prices. (Besides other plate lunch places aren't really expensive.)

                            3. y
                              yfunk3 RE: Jazzaloha Apr 22, 2011 07:40 AM

                              I have one question, since I'll be visiting in less than a month: Best loco moco near Waikiki/Ala Moana? That's where I'll be having most of my dinners. Is Rainbow Drive-In's better than Da Kitchen's on Maui? I've had L&L's Loco Moco and it was horrible compared to Da Kitchen's on Maui. Is Rainbow's more like L&L's or DK's?

                              TIA!

                              -----
                              Da Kitchen
                              2439 S Kihei Rd Ste 107A, Kihei, HI 96753

                              Rainbow Drive-In
                              3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: yfunk3
                                KaimukiMan RE: yfunk3 Apr 22, 2011 03:30 PM

                                Rainbow serves a very traditional Loco Moco. Rice, non-gourmet hamburger patties, fried egg, brown gravy. Since I have never understood why anyone eats anything at L&L, then I would have to say Rainbow is bound to be head and shoulders above whatever nasty thing they put on your plate. But Rainbow's food is not designer chic. Good local, artery clogging, stomach filling, put you to sleep food.

                                1. re: yfunk3
                                  s
                                  socal boy RE: yfunk3 May 1, 2011 08:00 PM

                                  Pineapple Room has a very nice loco moco. Totally upscale and definitely not plate lunch.

                                2. RWCFoodie RE: Jazzaloha Apr 22, 2011 08:34 AM

                                  Is Young's Fish Market worth a visit? A couple of Oahu native friends have told me to go to Young's next week when we'll be there. They say that Young's has always been their family's favorite... especially for lau lau.

                                  www.youngsfishmarket.com

                                  -----
                                  Young's Fish Market
                                  1286 Kalani St, Honolulu, HI 96817

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: RWCFoodie
                                    KaimukiMan RE: RWCFoodie Apr 22, 2011 03:25 PM

                                    Young's is not near Waikiki, but if that isn't a problem the food there is good. A mixture of fish and local favorites it always gets good reviews.

                                    1. re: RWCFoodie
                                      j
                                      Jazzaloha RE: RWCFoodie Apr 23, 2011 08:30 AM

                                      Lau-lau is one of my favorite dishes, and I would say that Young's has one of the best, if not the best lau-laus. Yama's also makes a really good lau-lau (chicken and pork), and they're closer to Waikiki. Most of my friends think Young's makes the best lau-lau, and I tend to agree.

                                      1. re: Jazzaloha
                                        RWCFoodie RE: Jazzaloha Apr 29, 2011 05:40 PM

                                        Thanks KM & Jazz - We pretty much avoid Waikiki like the plague... much prefer to get off the beaten path. We'll try to make it to Young's this visit (friend on the mainland wants me to bring some lau lau home for her - frozen ok?)

                                        1. re: RWCFoodie
                                          KaimukiMan RE: RWCFoodie Apr 29, 2011 06:17 PM

                                          in general lau lau freezes very well.

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                                            manomin RE: KaimukiMan Apr 29, 2011 08:54 PM

                                            It freezes very very well! For travel I suggest placing in freezer bags knocking all the air out completely. Then wrap heavy duty foil on each package. Next several layers of newspaper around them well use your judgement. Last put in another freezer bag (I like to use the 2 gallon) and place in your luggage. This is how each time we come home from Chicago with our Polish Sausages and deep dish pizza, works everytime!

                                          2. re: RWCFoodie
                                            j
                                            Jazzaloha RE: RWCFoodie Apr 29, 2011 09:22 PM

                                            We buy a bunch of lau-lau from Young's or Yama's and freeze it. If you use a steamer to reheat, it tastes great! (FWIW, Tamura's in Wai'anae also makes a decent lau-lau--probably not worth the drive just for that, but if you live out there or have family, it's a solid deal.)

                                            1. re: Jazzaloha
                                              RWCFoodie RE: Jazzaloha Apr 29, 2011 11:18 PM

                                              Thanks again KM, manomin & Jazz - Will probably stop by Youngs. We'll be in Ko 'Olina starting tomorrow for a week so Wai'anae might be possible (although a local friend warned us about heading out that way...)

                                              1. re: RWCFoodie
                                                j
                                                Jazzaloha RE: RWCFoodie Apr 30, 2011 01:07 AM

                                                Don't drive out to Tamura's just for the lau-lau. I'd stick with Young's or even Yama's.

                                                1. re: Jazzaloha
                                                  RWCFoodie RE: Jazzaloha May 1, 2011 02:20 PM

                                                  How are the lau laus from Costco?

                                                  1. re: RWCFoodie
                                                    manomin RE: RWCFoodie May 1, 2011 04:54 PM

                                                    They are the Keoki brand same as the little plastic tub of Kalua pork. I've had them and they are quite serviceable.

                                                    -----
                                                    Keoki's
                                                    3009 Peleke St, Lihue, HI 96766

                                      2. a
                                        alexa52 RE: Jazzaloha Apr 23, 2011 10:48 AM

                                        Great thread. I think I have narrowed it down to Rainbow & Ailana & Aiea Bowl for my trip this week. I might just toss a coin. What is your #1 item to order at each of these spots?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: alexa52
                                          KaimukiMan RE: alexa52 Apr 23, 2011 11:49 AM

                                          At rainbow go for the mixed plate. It has the bbq meat (teri) and the boneless chicken. The mahi mahi is meh, but not bad. The other rainbow best sellers are the chili dog plate and - when they have it (sun/wed/fri) - roast pork.

                                          Aiea bowl does a really good job on fish (furukake ahi), the loco moco, and the tasty chicken are among the most popular.

                                          I know you are set on Ailana, so I won't comment. LOL

                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
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                                            Jazzaloha RE: KaimukiMan Apr 23, 2011 03:07 PM

                                            My vote would be the tasty chicken at Aiea Bowl, (although I haven't tried all of their items). However, if you've eatend Mitsuken or Sugoi's garlic chicken, you may want to try something else, as it is in a similar vein, imo.

                                            For Rainbows, I guess the mix plate would be best. Loco moco is pretty good (and cheap, too). Also, you might want to try their slush float--which is one of the few remaining places that sell this.

                                          2. re: alexa52
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                                            Clinton RE: alexa52 Apr 24, 2011 11:19 AM

                                            Is Ailana serving plate lunches again? We were there last year and the owner (I forgot his name already) said that his wife was the one who cooked the food and didn't have time for it? All we had was the shave ice that time which was very good. Come to find out that he is a close family friend who lived here in Torrance, Ca. and was involved with the FOR basketball program. Is this the same place next to the Ala Moana Shopping Center?

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                                            alexa52 RE: Jazzaloha May 4, 2011 09:17 PM

                                            We ended up doing lunch at Rainbow Drive In one day and Ono's another day. So much was fried at Rainbow- that I couldn't really eat much. We ordered the mix plat (chicken, steak & fish) and the chicken and fish were breaded and fried. I much preferred Ono's. We ordered the combo lunch for three (their description was full Luau food without the Luau) as well as the Tuesday special - beef curry. We really enjoyed Ono's.

                                            Also, loved the note on the door- sit on the bench and we will seat you when a table is available. As well -- it truly seems like the place hasn't been revamped since it opened. I loved it's old school decor and the how attentive the staff was.

                                            1. s
                                              stevied317 RE: Jazzaloha May 18, 2011 05:24 PM

                                              I'm a big Rainbow Drive-in fan. Yeah, it's not gourmet, but it's fast, good and cheap. I really like their beef stew. You can only get it certain days (Wed, Sat, and Sun, I think) but it's like mom used to make and very filling. Get that and a Strawberry slush and you're set for the day!

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