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Hawaii Plate Lunch


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#1 skchai

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 08:09 AM

(1) Which plate lunch place do you go to the most often? Why? How do you think the big chains like Zippys and L&L compare to smaller operations like Grace's Inn, Rainbow, Masu's Massive, and (name you own favorite)? What are some of your favorite main dishes - chicken katsu, teri beef, loco moco, fried ahi . . . ??

(2) What's your favorite Korean-style plate lunch place? What do you look for in a good Korean-style plate lunch - main dishes or panchan (sides)? Which panchan do you like the most?

(3) What do you think about plate lunch places that try to incorporate some HRC-type ideas. Examples are Kaka`ako Kitchen or Onjin's (for dinner). I went to Spot's Inn on Dillingham Blvd. the other day and they had Garlic Mahi with Lemon and Capers! Should there be more movement in this direction?

(3) Any ideas for new plate lunch concepts that haven't been tried yet but should?

(4) L&L has expanded in a big way to the mainland, with 25 locations,but has experienced mixed success (the Advertiser can't resist using the obvious pun). Do you think the concept can work outside of, say, California? How does it need to be adapted, if at all?

(5) *** Bonus Question 1 ***

Why do we still have mac salad on all the plate lunch menus after 25+ years? I believe Rainbow, K.C., Diner's or Gracie's originated it (spreading my bets here), but all offered other sides as well. Many places nowadays offer nothing but mac salad and two scoops in addition to the main. Can't we have something more interesting - or at least different variations of the mac salad? Any defenders of the humble mac salad?

(6) *** Bonus Question 2 ***

It seems that almost all the most popular inventions in plate lunch mains over the last 25 years seem to have to do with chicken. Let's see . . . Mochiko Chicken, Garlic Fried Chicken, "Korean Chicken", and the kupuna of them all - Chicken Katsu. Why? Because it's cheap? Because nobody doesn't like chicken (except my wife)? Because you can always fry it and fried things are no ka oi?

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#2 mamster

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:18 PM

I hope someone will jump in on this, because I've been wondering about the macaroni salad myself. There's a Hawaiian plate lunch place in Seattle called Aloha Plates (there are probably others, but this is the one inside Uwajimaya, the big Asian supermarket).

If no one responds soon, would you be willing to follow up with a brief introduction to Hawaiian plate lunch? I'd love to understand the form better, and I think a lot of other people would, too.
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#3 ExtraMSG

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 01:24 AM

I have an uncle who's Samoan and has lived in Hawaiian with his family for a long time. I can remember him getting a huge tub of mayo for Christmas before. That's actually what he wanted. As many know, Polys love mayo, allegedly because of it's similar consistency to coconut cream. They put it on everything. Macaroni salad is just noodles covered in mayo, really, so I'd guess it has something to do with that.

Best plate lunch I've ever had (and I've had a lot for a howlie) was at Mark's Place in Kauai. It's just a caterer with a to-go kitchen in an industrial part of town. Fabulous stuff. Everything was very fresh with excellent cooking technique and refined sauces. A big step above the average plate lunch with no step up in price.

I think L&L can be decent, depending on the outpost. But it's really just B-grade plate lunch. It's usually easy to find a place that's significantly better just by asking around.

Whenever I'm in Hawaii I eat a lot of plate lunch. Probably 75% of what I eat. I usually get teriyaki something or chicken katsu unless a fish looks especially fresh. If they've got fresh caught tuna, ono, or mahi, I'm all over that. Depending on what the loco moco meat is, I'll go for that if I don't plan on swimming anytime soon. Don't want to sink to the bottom. You don't need a diving belt if you eat loco moco first.

#4 skchai

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:49 AM

Mamster, here's a very basic intro to plate lunch. The plate lunch is a local standard in Hawai`i, the most popular form of fast food in a state that consumes fast food in great quantities. It consists of a main dish adapted from one or another of the ethnic cuisines of the islands, two scoops of rice, and a side dish, which is usually macaroni salad nowadays. The better places offer multiple side dishes. Servings are large and little consideration is given to dietary balance or calories. It is usually eaten with disposable wooden chopsticks. There are a number of variations on the plate lunch, most notably in recent years the Korean-style plate lunch, which usually consists of a grilled meat dish (bulgogi, kalbi, etc.), two scoops, and a few vegetable dishes. Plate lunch places probably evolved from the lunch wagons that frequented the plantations fields in the early and middle parts of the 20th century, selling meals to hungry workers of various nationalities. Hence they became a natural mixing place for the cuisines of those nationalities.

It's a big topic, so I'm sure this is pretty inadequate. I've posted links to some additional resources in the Honolulu Dining digest in the Media forum, many of which relate to plate lunch.

There's a Hawaiian plate lunch place in Seattle called Aloha Plates (there are probably others, but this is the one inside Uwajimaya, the big Asian supermarket).


I visited Uwajimaya's main branch (the one with the apartment complex on top) when my family was in Seattle a couple years ago. Great place, and very interesting mix of restaurants. If I remember correctly, there was a Wolfgang Puck's Chinois outside, and a food court inside with all kinds of ethnic alternatives. I don't remember Aloha Plates, however. Did it get created in the last few years?

I have an uncle who's Samoan and has lived in Hawaiian with his family for a long time. I can remember him getting a huge tub of mayo for Christmas before. That's actually what he wanted. As many know, Polys love mayo, allegedly because of it's similar consistency to coconut cream. They put it on everything. Macaroni salad is just noodles covered in mayo, really, so I'd guess it has something to do with that.


ExtraMSG, you're probably right about the mayo. People of the Polynesian islands have in general taken to processed high-calorie foods in a big way. The fabled popularity of spam in Hawaii is another example. Why is this? There are probably a number of reasons. One may be the attraction of high-calorie foods to people whose lifestyles until fairly recently consisted of largely of very strenuous physical labor. Another may be the difficulty of importing fresh foods given their distance from major producing centers. For whatever reason, people do seem to enjoy their mac salad here.

Best plate lunch I've ever had (and I've had a lot for a howlie) was at Mark's Place in Kauai. It's just a caterer with a to-go kitchen in an industrial part of town. Fabulous stuff. Everything was very fresh with excellent cooking technique and refined sauces. A big step above the average plate lunch with no step up in price.

I think L&L can be decent, depending on the outpost. But it's really just B-grade plate lunch. It's usually easy to find a place that's significantly better just by asking around.


Never had a chance to try Mark's Place, though after hearing your rec I wish I had. Contrary to popular impression, most Honolulu residents rarely make it over to the neighbor islands - it's a special occasion thing unless you have business there. I agree with you that L&L is O.K. but not great most of the time. I think the reason why they've been able to expand so fast is that their co-founder Eddie Flores is a great financial manager and has managed to mobilize capital in a big way. He actually started his career as a banker and then had his own investment brokerage company before going into the food business.

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#5 ExtraMSG

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:52 PM

Never had a chance to try Mark's Place, though after hearing your rec I wish I had. Contrary to popular impression, most Honolulu residents rarely make it over to the neighbor islands - it's a special occasion thing unless you have business there. I agree with you that L&L is O.K. but not great most of the time.


It's a shame since the flights between islands really are pretty inexpensive, especially for locals. You can even get those books of flights. But I know what you mean. My aunt and uncle live on the north shore of Oahu and just going to Honolulu is some sort of "trip" for them. Here, that 30-45 minute drive is a common commute.

On Oahu, the best plate lunches I found always seemed to be some shack or roach coach by the ocean with really fresh fish. I remember one out towards Hanauma Bay that my wife and I stopped at that had some fantastic mahi mahi.

Personally, I can't stand macaroni salad, so I hope a trend towards providing alternatives occurs. My next trip to Hawaii, probably next year, will be to the big island to see the volcanoes, and I'm looking forward to finding some great plate lunch there, too.

Edited by ExtraMSG, 30 September 2003 - 02:53 PM.


#6 Chris Cognac

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 04:42 PM

So the question is...Should I try the L&L in Gardena that opened a while back?
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#7 skchai

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 04:54 PM

Chris - As an introduction to the plate lunch experience, I think L&L is a good representative. On the average, the quantity and quality are O.K., but the variety of side dishes is not at the same level as some other places. I think the Gardena location should be among the better mainland franchises, since there are many Hawai`i people living in that area. If you want to try what's popular in Hawai`i, I recommend the Chicken Katsu, Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken, Fried Mahimahi, or Beef Shortribs, or better yet a combo plate of some sort because it gives you chance to try a number of different mains.

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#8 caroline

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 05:25 PM

ExtraMsg,

My experience in Hawaii was that the flights to neighbor islands were pretty cheap. But unless you had relatives, the killer was to add in car rental and hotel. Then we could fly to the mainland for that. So for us a neighbor island weekend was a very expensive treat. But then we weren't locals with an extended family network,

Rachel
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#9 ExtraMSG

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:22 PM

Locals also get discounts and can buy "books" of the flights. For your own information, you should look into public transport next time. The islands are small with only a couple major highways. I think both Kauai and Oahu had regular buses that went around.

#10 KarenS

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:46 PM

Well, I for one am worried about what the plate lunch is doing to locals. It is way too fatty and too many calories (and too much food) for modern Hawaiians. I work with many that have high blood presure, adult diabetes, gout. Fried food, 3-4 scoops rice, mac salad, potato salad. The one plate lunch where you WILL find lots of vegetables is Korean. Green salad, vegetables and fruit are what is lacking in a plate lunch. There are places that try to make them healthier (Kakaako Kitchen is one) with brown rice and green salad, grilled fish, etc...

#11 Tremors

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 08:02 AM

Extra MSG - actually interisland flights have gotten much more expensive in the past year or so (Hawaiian Air for one is on the brink of bankruptcy - not sure how Aloha is doing) - even for locals. There was an article recently in the NY Times (I think) that locals find it much cheaper to go to the mainland for vacation then to go interisland.

I grew up on the Big Island and you could get a kamaaina rate but unless you flew pretty regularly it wasn't worth it. Also keep in mind that people don't make near as much on the islands as they do here on the mainland - it seems cheap to me now that I live here but it certainly didn't seem cheap at that time. I'm not sure why but we never went to the other islands except on very special occasions or a school trip. Also it was pretty great right where we were - why leave?

I'm glad you are going to see the volcano - it is incredible - hopefully it will still be flowing. If not the Big Island is really a special place and you will have lots of good grinds and beautiful places to visit.

#12 caroline

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 06:02 PM

Agree with Tremors. Kamaiiana rates really didn't help. And public transport didn't get you close to all those great food places you really wanted to see. It was cheaper to spend a week with our kids in SF than to go to a neighbor island,

Rachel
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#13 skchai

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 01:02 AM

Another thing - both Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines eliminated the coupon system for frequent flyers at the beginning of the year. This is the system that ExtraMSG alluded to earlier that allowed travellers to buy books of tickets that could be used on any flight they chose in the future. Coupons made it too difficult for the airlines to predict seat occupancy on any given flight. People will still be able to get prices similar to the coupon level, but they will have to book in advance to do so, which eliminates what little spontaneity was left in interisland travel.

But Gov. Lingle is now talking about reviving interisland ferry service - bringing back old memories of SeaFlite hovercraft!

Returning to the plate lunch issue (not that the interisland stuff wasn't fascinating!) While Nadine Kam at the Star-Bulletin, Matthew Gray at the Advertiser, and KHNL's Cheap Eats (see links in the media digest) frequently review Honolulu plate lunch places, I wanted to looked around on the web for personal sites that might contain reviews. There were surprisingly few - it was easier to find personal sites about L.A. Hawaiian-style plate lunch places! The best one I could find is called Plate Lunch Critique. It's pretty good, but unfortunately hasn't been updated since year 2000. You get the feeling that the site owner "Bruddah Richard" really cares about his subject a lot, however, and there are pictures to boot.

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#14 anil

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 01:11 AM

Having followed this discussion with a lot of interest, I suggest professor, why don't you pin a list of plate lunch places by the Islands ? Would help tremendously us conference goers on restricted per-diem budgets :smile:
anil

#15 Chris Cognac

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 08:02 AM

Chris - As an introduction to the plate lunch experience, I think L&L is a good representative.  On the average, the quantity and quality are O.K., but  the variety of side dishes is not at the same level as some other places.  I think the Gardena location should be among the better mainland franchises, since there are many Hawai`i people living in that area.  If you want to try what's popular in Hawai`i, I recommend the Chicken Katsu, Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken, Fried Mahimahi, or Beef Shortribs, or better yet a combo plate of some sort because it gives you chance to try a number of different mains.

I ate there yesterday..had the chicken and beef combo platter....They were out of Kalua pork....

Its was ok....I would go back if it was nearby and I was hungry..I think places like the Loft and TnT cafe are better.....and lets not forget the Gardena Bowling alley for some of the best Hawaiian food around!
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#16 skchai

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 10:40 PM

Mahalo for the report, Chris.

Care to tell us about Loft, TnT, and the Bowling Alley? Us Hawai`i people are curious how our food is presented in SoCal!

Thanks!

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#17 Chris Cognac

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 08:57 AM

Mahalo for the report, Chris.

Care to tell us about Loft, TnT, and the Bowling Alley?  Us Hawai`i people are curious how our food is presented in SoCal!

Thanks!

Well, its along story....Starting with the Gardena Bowling alley and ending with TnT cafe....Gardena Bowl is legend for the best Hawaiian food and portugese sausage around, its been around since the begining of time and is packed with second and third generation Japanese Americans and lots of Hawaiian's. It was run by a family for a long time and was the only place around, then some younger bruddah's opened up "the loft" in Gardena which served the basic hawaiian food....great Teri, plate lunches and Loco Moco...the owners got into a dispute and split off to open 3 different places.."The Loft", "Island Grinds" and "Back Home in Laheina". Those places have all done well....The original family that ran Gardena Bowl decided it was time to retire and sold the place to a guy named Hedeki that owns "Azuma", a very popular hole in the wall "ozakaya" place popular with Japanese executives from nearby Honda and Nissan HQ's. Well the original Gardena Bowl owners got bored in retirement and opened up TnT cafe in south Torrance....Same great Gardena Bowl food, much smaller place...really hard to find but good stuff...Great teri beef and spam plate lunch...

Hope that helps..if not enough I wrote columns for Azuma and Gardena bowl for my paper...they are both on my web site if you want to check them out..there are maps to the places as well!
Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!
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#18 Kimo

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 09:17 AM

Just returned this early morning from Molokai and Oahu. I went to Rainbow Drive-Inn, my favorite post-surfing place to eat--stayed at the Moana and watched the surfers at my fave spot, Canoes...can't surf for another six months (until I stop being pregnant). At 11:20 a.m. there were at least 14 people in line and a line of cars waiting to park in the lot. If there are a lot of surfers and construction workers in line at a plate lunch place, that is a good sign. All of the construction workers were on their lunch break. I had the teri beef/mahimahi/fried chicken combo with two scoops rice and a mac salad. Not the local girl thing to do...I smothered my plate with ketchup and shoyu (soy sauce). Not much to report on the Oahu food scene (I was there for only one night and visited with family and friends). However, no matter what you do on the mainland (i.e. L&L opening all over the country), the plate lunches are still the best while in Hawaii (there's something about dining outside in 80 degree weather near the beach).

#19 wesza

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:44 PM

I hope someone will jump in on this, because I've been wondering about the macaroni salad myself. There's a Hawaiian plate lunch place in Seattle called Aloha Plates (there are probably others, but this is the one inside Uwajimaya, the big Asian supermarket).

If no one responds soon, would you be willing to follow up with a brief introduction to Hawaiian plate lunch? I'd love to understand the form better, and I think a lot of other people would, too.

Mamster: Having worked on a survey about Plate Lunches, and especially the evolution of Hawaiian Stle Macaroni Salad. The Way the Macaroni Sald evolved was that the original purvayors of the Popular Plate lunches served all over the Islands, was something that started by the Okinawan Community. This was a method of preparing a cold salad type scooped treat, that was provided together with the 2 scoops of Rice. To make the Macaroni more palatable to local tastes some canned, locally packed chunk type tuna was added to the Macaroni salad, this is still generally done, with some places adding some chopped celery, shredded carrots or even peas, with the salad or elbow macaroni and mayonnase. Many Lunch Wagon vendors often purchased their hot daily specials from Caterers who provided the entrees, such as 'Brisket Stew. Oxtail Stew, Various Teriyaki's, Mahi-Mahi, Lau Lau, Bitter Melon, Salisbury Steak, Ham Hocks, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Beef Stew, Kalua Pig and Cabbage, Short Ribs, Spare Ribs and many other favorites. Most items had some type of Gravy or Sauce, and everything was served with 2 scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Irwin
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#20 skchai

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 08:53 AM

Mamster: Having worked on a survey about Plate Lunches, and especially the evolution of Hawaiian Stle Macaroni Salad. The Way the Macaroni Sald evolved was that the original purvayors of the Popular Plate lunches served all over the Islands, was something that started by the Okinawan Community. This was a method of preparing a cold salad type scooped treat, that was provided together with the 2 scoops of Rice. To make the Macaroni more palatable to local tastes some canned, locally packed chunk type tuna was added to the Macaroni salad, this is still generally done, with some places adding some chopped celery, shredded carrots or even peas, with the salad or elbow macaroni and mayonnase. Many Lunch Wagon vendors often purchased their hot daily specials from Caterers who provided the entrees, such as 'Brisket Stew. Oxtail Stew, Various Teriyaki's,  Mahi-Mahi, Lau Lau, Bitter Melon, Salisbury Steak, Ham Hocks, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Beef Stew, Kalua Pig and Cabbage, Short Ribs, Spare Ribs and many other favorites. Most items had some type of Gravy or Sauce, and everything was served with 2 scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Irwin

So that's how it happened. Always wondered! Thanks again.

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#21 skchai

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 08:56 AM

Well, its along story....Starting with the Gardena Bowling alley and ending with TnT cafe....Gardena Bowl is legend for the best Hawaiian food and portugese sausage around, its been around since the begining of time and is packed with second and third generation Japanese Americans and lots of Hawaiian's. It was run by a family for a long time and was the only place around, then some younger bruddah's opened up "the loft" in Gardena which served the basic hawaiian food....great Teri, plate lunches and Loco Moco...the owners got into a dispute and split off to open 3 different places.."The Loft", "Island Grinds" and "Back Home in Laheina". Those places have all done well....The original family that ran Gardena Bowl decided it was time to retire and sold the place to a guy named Hedeki that owns "Azuma", a very popular hole in the wall "ozakaya" place popular with Japanese executives from nearby Honda and Nissan HQ's. Well the original Gardena Bowl owners got bored in retirement and opened up TnT cafe in south Torrance....Same great Gardena Bowl food, much smaller place...really hard to find but good stuff...Great teri beef and spam plate lunch...

Hope that helps..if not enough I wrote columns for Azuma and Gardena bowl for my paper...they are both on my web site if you want to check them out..there are maps to the places as well!

Thanks, Chris, I'll definitely check out your site.

Sun-Ki Chai
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#22 skchai

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Posted 04 October 2003 - 09:01 AM

Just returned this early morning from Molokai and Oahu.  I went to Rainbow Drive-Inn, my favorite post-surfing place to eat--stayed at the Moana and watched the surfers at my fave spot, Canoes...can't surf for another six months (until I stop being pregnant).  At 11:20 a.m. there were at least 14 people in line and a line of cars waiting to park in the lot.  If there are a lot of surfers and construction workers in line at a plate lunch place, that is a good sign.  All of the construction workers were on their lunch break.  I had the teri beef/mahimahi/fried chicken combo with two scoops rice and a mac salad.  Not the local girl thing to do...I smothered my plate with ketchup and shoyu (soy sauce).  Not much to report on the Oahu food scene (I was there for only one night and visited with family and friends).  However, no matter what you do on the mainland (i.e. L&L opening all over the country), the plate lunches are still the best while in Hawaii (there's something about dining outside in 80 degree weather near the beach).

Great report, Kimo. How do you compare Rainbow's to the way it was last time you came. Still keeping up the quality? Hope you had a good trip.

Sun-Ki Chai
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#23 caroline

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 05:43 PM

Irwin, I've really learnt a lot from your posts on this thread and on the one on Hawaii restaurants too. Can you bear another couple of questions?

Did the military have any connection with or influence on the plate lunch? I've read that on the mainland lunch wagons were set up around military bases in World War II and after. Was that the pattern in Hawaii too? And if what did they serve?

And how many caterers were supplying the plate lunch scene in the 60s and 70s? Were any others, like you, involved in other aspects of the food business? Sounds like the movers and shakers in Hawaiian food were quite few.

Oh I wish I had been able to go to Lisboa. Good luck with your new venture. And thanks so much for posting,

Rachel
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#24 mb7o

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Posted 05 October 2003 - 07:44 PM

On the local Hawaiian radio show (12-2 Saturday on KBCS 91.3 FM) this past week they discussed that Kauai Family Restaurant in Georgetown is almost 10 years old, and played a relevant novelty song. Some song where children were singing in various languages with a chorus of 'that's the hawaiian way'.

At some point (I think the Korean section), someone is taking an order for a plate lunch and asks what two vegetables the customer wants. The customer says "two mac salads". Order taker "no, vegetables". Customer: "but those are my vegetables".

#25 skchai

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:33 PM

At some point (I think the Korean section), someone is taking an order for a plate lunch and asks what two vegetables the customer wants. The customer says "two mac salads". Order taker "no, vegetables". Customer: "but those are my vegetables".

That's pretty telling. Originally, then the Korean restauranters such as Ted's and Kim Chee's tried to pioneer the Korean plate lunch, they offered the typical Korean side dishes such as various kim chis and namuls (unfermented veggie salads). They soon found that the local customer, while finding these veggie alternatives tasty for the most part, wanted something more in line with the mac salad, etc. that they had been receiving before. So now, it's typical that you can choose your threeside dishes at a place like Yummy's without encountering more than a smidgen of vegetable - you can go for mac salad, longrice (like Korean chapchae, but with most of the vegetables absent), and shoyu-stewed potatoes if you like. However, it's a sign of progress that most people don't go that far in avoiding vegetables. . .

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#26 wesza

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 06:44 PM

Irwin, I've really learnt a lot from your posts on this thread and on the one on Hawaii restaurants too.  Can you bear another couple of questions?

Did the military have any connection with or influence on the plate lunch? I've read that on the mainland lunch wagons were set up around military bases in World War II and after.  Was that the pattern in Hawaii too?  And if what did they serve?

And how many caterers were supplying the plate lunch scene in the 60s and 70s?  Were any others, like you, involved in other aspects of the food business?  Sounds like the movers and shakers in Hawaiian food were quite few. 

Oh I wish I had been able to go to Lisboa.  Good luck with your new venture.  And thanks so much for posting,

Rachel

Rachel, Mamster and skChai: The orgin/evolution of the "Hawaiian Plate Lunch", is something that according to my information only statred with the second world war. It was not directed to the actual Military Bases, whose personel were fed only in the Mess Halls or on base NCO or Officers Clubs. The only way on-duty personel could access the ,"Plate Lunchs". was by getting a Pass. If they'd receive a pass they raced right to wherever the 'Action" was or the Beaches/Bars.

The major customers were the Civilians, employed at various positions by the Military. This included the majority of Long Shore Men, Base oriented Civilian Employees in fact the great majority of workers. They were the customers that the independant contractors served. Many were pre-order and prepaid by the Military, others were serviced by Lunch Wagons, with special gasoline permits who were expected to be at assigned places at specified times of service. Remember everything was on a 24 hour basis. The oters operated from assigned semi-permanent locations where they served Truck Drivers or worker who assembled for transportation to and from work.

The most viable criteria for the plate lunch was full them up, cheap and tasty.
This was even applicable into the 1980ties. I took the chance and purchased a Full Shipping Container, sent directly to Oscer Mayer from their plant by mistake at a very low price for the product, because I was familiar with it, had tried it, and thought it was perfect for Plate Lunches. I brokered it to the caterers who specialized in the Plate Lunch Wagons. The item was 'Salisbury Steak's, 10 ounces each, packed 12 to a aluminum steam table sized container, that more importantly was loaded with a good tasting gravy. This 40.000 pound container lasted less then 2 months. We charged the regular hi volume wholesale price. Made a good profit on the first container, and a commision of the future containers sent every 6 weeks for years. This item went great. Minimum work, lots of gravy to cover the meat and rice, even extra to use on other dishes. It was and maybe still is a hit.

I wasn't directly involved business wise with the caterers or Lunch Wagon operators, even though I certainly was a customer. I did get to know many through the years as customers or friends thru various associations or suppliers when wearing my consultants hat. I was able to permote some items featuring reasonable under utilized food products suitable to that type of service on a probono basis. Irwin
I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

#27 Chef Fowke

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 12:32 AM

My wife grew up in Hawaii and her brothers to this day talk about and make plate lunch for themselves. As a true howlie I do not fully get it. Two of my wife's brothers compete at an Olympic level in water sports and eat the stuff religiously. They make it everyday at home and look for it every time they go out.
I eat salads and fresh foods everyday and could lose 20 pounds. They eat this starchy stuff and would be lucky to have a combined body fat of 8%!!

I know that a lot of local Hawaiians fight with a weight problem from the excess fat/carbs in there diet. My main question would be is why did they adopt such a cuisine? Hawaii is a tropical paradise with a diverse selection of beautiful fruits, vegetables and seafood.
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#28 Chef Fowke

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 12:33 AM

.....note: I am not saying all Hawaiians are over weight!

Edited by Chef Fowke, 13 October 2003 - 12:35 AM.

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#29 skchai

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 02:16 AM

I know that a lot of local Hawaiians fight with a weight problem from the excess fat/carbs in there diet. My main question would be is why did they adopt such a cuisine? Hawaii is a tropical paradise with a diverse selection of beautiful fruits, vegetables and seafood.

Chef Fowke, excellent question. There are discussions of this issue (in bits and pieces) in the following threads:

spam and mac salad: "hawaiian" foods

The Future of Hawai`i Restaurants: New Concepts, "Theories of the Mid-Range"

and most recently a thread devoted to the topic:

White Rice, Spam and Health in Hawaii

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host


#30 caroline

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 04:10 PM

Chef Fowke, It's a great question and one that most of us who were not born and raised in the Islands ask ourselves. I'd always assumed that you could just pluck fruit from the trees on Pacific Islands.

But the fact is that Hawaii had NOTHING to eat when the first Hawaiians arrived (not quite true, a couple of berries high in the mountains, fiddle head ferns, flightless birds, seaweed and reef fish which are mainly tiny and bony (think angel fish). It was not that easy to catch the big offshore fish such as tuna most of the year even for seamen as skilled as the Hawaiians .

Luckily the Hawaiians brought a dozen or so plants, many of them for food, and so added taro leaves and stems to the green veg list. But theirs' was never a culture with a lot of fruit and veg.

Now with other immigrant groups you can get an amazing range of fruit and veg in Hawaii. The Farmers' Markets are a wonderful source and even the grocery stores have items unheard of or rare on the menu. But incorporating new fruits and veg into diets takes a lot of learning and time.

And it's helpful to remember that our own passion for fruit and veg dates from the 20s or 30s when vitamins were discovered. Before that, in most parts of the world, food that really filled you up and gave you energy (that is proteins and carbohydrates) was the most desired. Still is, actually.

That doesn't give a full answer to why the plate lunch is popular but perhaps it helps with the fruits and veg part,


Cheers,

Rachel
Rachel Caroline Laudan