Eat Like a Local...Plate Lunch

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National fast food chains didn't exist in Hawaii before the first McDonald's opened in Aina Haina on Oahu in 1968, but today they are found on all the major islands. Yet, despite the proliferation of mainstream food outlets available, it seems that locals prefer what we call "plate lunch." Evolving from its roots in the bento boxes favored by Japanese immigrants, the plate lunch is a mix of favorite local foods on one plate. Typically, it includes two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad and the choice of an entree — although more health conscious locals now substitute tossed salad and brown rice. Favorite entrees include:

  • Loco Moco — a hamburger patty topped with a fried egg and brown gravy
  • Chicken Katsu — boneless chicken breaded in Japanese breadcrumbs, deep fried, and sliced into strips
  • Teri Beef — thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in teriyaki sauce before cooking
  • Hamburger Steak — hamburger patty topped with grilled onions and brown gravy (pictured above)
  • Kalua Pig and Cabbage — made with smoked, shredded pork, you might call this a local twist on corned beef and cabbage
  • There are popular plate lunch places on every island so be sure to eat like a local and experience it for yourself. If you're in Waikiki, drive towards Diamond Head and try Diamond Head Grill on Monsarrat Ave. or the iconic Rainbow Drive-In on Kapahulu Avenue. If you're staying in Waikiki, you can also check out the great deli at Coco Cove in the Center of Waikiki which has an awesome selection of plate lunch favorites, including Kalua pork, lau lau, and homestyle meatloaf. Don't be afraid to just go for it, and I think you'll see why we think plate lunch is so ono (tasty)!

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