The Plate Lunch Thread

Right now, if a visitor came to O’ahu, I’m not sure which plate lunch I would recommend. A part of me feels like plate lunches have gone down hill–or there really aren’t many outstanding places. Do you guys agree or disagree? HK’s and Grace’s were two of my favorites, but I think there’s only one Grace’s left. (The one in Pearl City seemed to go downhill a bit, too–and they eventually closed.) I also really liked Koi’s, but their brick and mortar closed.

Here’s another question: What entres or sides would you like to see in a plate lunch? The first entre that comes to mind for me is Indian butter chicken. A good butter chicken would be awesome in a plate lunch. I wouldn’t mind seeing other types of rice in plate lunches–like biryani, or other types of Indian or Middle-Eastern style rices. I’m not sure if locals would like this, as they’re more like rice pilaf. I also wanted to see a mushroom risotto as well, but I’ve heard risottos are too difficult to make or you can’t make them and have them sit on the side.

15 thoughts on “The Plate Lunch Thread

  1. Take away Grace’s chicken katsu, and their food is pretty bad. I would prefer L&L over Grace’s food overall. I like L&L’s BBQ or teriyaki stuff. It has a strong ginger taste that I like. I don’t like the flat top cooking which is why HK’s ruled, though. The L&L teri beef is pretty tender unlike what you normally find in the Zip Pac, too. That being said I go to L&L like once a year I think.

      1. Man, that makes me want to try the meat loaf. I know Reid is thinking those are two things he would never order out. So I take it you prefer Grace’s over L&L as well?

        1. Grace’s meatloaf is nothing to get too excited about, but I like it. The gravy is standard out-of-the-envelope gravy. I agree with you about Big City Diner’s meatloaf, by the way. That’s what I had the last time I was there ten million years ago.

          I think I agree that L&L’s quality is top to bottom better than Grace’s, but Grace’s mac salad is so much better (depending on which L&L you go to). I love that mac salad at Grace’s. And I like the kimchi and (these days minimal) chow fun. And the katsu sauce is far better at Grace’s. I also like Grace’s breakfast options better, ‘though breakfast at Grace’s isn’t that great either.

    1. I haven’t tried a lot of Grace’s other items, but I wouldn’t dispute your claim, although I liked their lemon chicken, which is quite different from the way it’s normally made. I think their roast pork with brown gravy was solid, too. I do not think the quality of L&L is better than Grace’s, though.

      I like L&L’s BBQ or teriyaki stuff. It has a strong ginger taste that I like. I don’t like the flat top cooking which is why HK’s ruled, though.

      Those are two kinda big strikes in my view.

      1. It’s not like Grace’s isn’t cooked on a flat top.

        I had the roast pork at Grace’s and it was overly fatty and the gravy was super greasy. It reminded me of something that would come out of Diner’s. I don’t think L&L’s have roast pork, but if they did, it wouldn’t be super greasy. Overall you cannot see grease on L&L’s food like you do at Diner’s.

        I think Mitchell is right about the mac salad at Grace’s versus L&L’s though.

      2. I’m talking about bbq chicken. I don’t think Grace’s offers bbq chicken, by the way.

        You think the quality at Grace’s and Diners is equivalent? That seems wrong to me.

  2. There’s an Indian plate lunch place in the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange food court. I rather like it. There’s also one in Paradise Palms, the food court next to Hamilton Library. I like it quite a bit. Unless you define plate lunch specifically as entrees accompanied by rice and mac salad.

    1. I wouldn’t really count Indian take out as plate lunch, but I liked the one at the takeout place across from Stadium park in Mo’ili’ili.

      1. I don’t know. You get a choice of entrees, a choice of sides, and rice. Looks like a plate lunch except no macaroni salad.

    2. I don’t really count Patty’s Chinese Kitchen or Panda as plate lunch, either. I guess you could make a case that it is.

      1. I know what you mean, but if you get a serving of Indian butter chicken at (say) L&L and get it with all rice, the only difference between it and the same plate at Paradise Palms is the kind of rice. Similarly, you can get a lemon chicken plate at L&L already with steamed rice. You could order the same thing at Patty’s when Patty’s was still around.

        This isn’t worth trying to hash out; I’m just observing that there seem to be fuzzy lines I can’t define.

      2. Plate lunches generally have two scoops of rice, mac salad and one or two entres. The entre options should feature some local favorites–e.g., hamburger steak, teri chicken/beef/pork, beef stew, etc. The more of these features, the more it’s like plate lunch. So if you go to a L&L and order all rice and lemon chicken, I would say that’s technically not a plate lunch–or one is moving away from it–even though L&L is a plate lunch place. One could argue ordering toss salad instead of mac is less plate-lunchy as well.

  3. Before it went upscale, my recommendation was always Nico’s or Kakaako Kitchen. Now I would probably recommend Rainbow because the choices are far fewer and what’s on there is a good sampling of local food, especially the mixed plates.

    Although KJ’s would be a good choice too.

    1. The quality of Rainbows is kinda low to me–so I don’t really care for. To me, the difference in quality between L&L and Rainbow and even Grace’s (non-chicken katsu–although that kinda went downhill at the Pearl City location) is pretty negligible.

      Besides the fried chicken, what other entres have you tried at KJs, and how were they?

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