30 Meals Under $30


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Photo: David Croxford

Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch, Crab & Big Aloha Brewery

$28.95!  Kalbi marinated butterfish ($23.95) and Stellina di Notte pinot grigio ($5).

We still miss Sam’s  original restaurant on Kapahulu, so it’s good to know we can enjoy his take on Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine on Nimitz. Since the word “kalbi” seems forever linked to the word “ribs,” we had to see what kalbi marinated butterfish was like—and it was ‘ono. A generous portion of butterfish with a vivid red kochu jang (chili bean paste) vinaigrette on garlic butter-braised baby bok choy. You will not leave hungry after indulging in this famously rich fish. Breakfast Monday through Friday, 7 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 to 11 a.m. Lunch Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. 580 N. Nimitz Highway, 545-7979, samchoy.com.


Photo: Mark Arbeit

Soul Café

$25! Chicken, sweet potato and spicy kukui Portuguese sausage gumbo ($14), Southern sampler ($9) and sweet iced tea ($2).

fter checking out Soul Café on a recent weeknight, we couldn’t stop thinking about the scrumptious gumbo, and the Southern sampler, which includes succulent cornbread with honey butter, vegetarian chili, Mao collard greens and the best coleslaw we’ve ever tasted. Is your mouth watering yet? We thought so. Soul Café is the restaurant version of chef and owner Sean Priester’s Pacific Soul lunch wagon. While the parking is tricky, Priester’s food is worth it. We recommend washing down this Southern goodness with the sweet iced tea. If you’re still hungry, order two pieces of the buttermilk fried chicken—yum—for $5; you’ll end up with a $30 meal. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 3040 Waialae Ave., 735-7685.


The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong

$28.50! “Da Poi Cup” ($9.25), Mākaha mango salad ($12), a glass of “Pinot Pinot” ($7.25).

he Pineapple Room received a much-needed facelift last October, so the room now looks as fresh and contemporary as the flavors served there. We sampled executive chef Lance Kosaka’s “Da Poi Cup,”—a smoky, salty scoop of kālua pork dropped right into a bowl of Hanalei poi, topped with lomi tomato—as well as a menu item straight out of mango season: Spiced kiawe-grilled shrimp with Mākaha mangoes, Golden Delicious apples, Ma‘o spicy greens and a mango-yuzu-chili dressing. We added to that a glass of “Pinot Pinot,” a blend of pinot blanc and pinot gris made specifically to complement Alan Wong’s cuisine. Breakfast Saturday, 8 to 10:30 a.m., and Sunday, 9 to 10:30 a.m. Lunch Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner Monday through Saturday, 4 to 8:30 p.m. Macy’s Third Floor, Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., 945-6573, alanwongs.com.

Photo: Ryan Siphers

3660 On The Rise

$26.75!  Potato-crusted crab cake ($12), clam and corn chowder ($6.75), Mile-High Waialae Pie ($8).

At the casual, yet upscale 3660,  we took on the “smaller” dishes, which actually weren’t so small: a generous-size crab cake accompanied by an equal amount of Nalo greens and a healthy serving of creamy clam and corn chowder. For dessert, we indulged in layers of coffee and vanilla ice cream in the Mile-High Wai‘alae Pie. Mix and match these and other tempting appetizers, desserts and drinks, including the piled-high shichimi seared ahi salad ($11), harlequin crème brûlée ($8), and 3660’s signature lychee martini ($7). Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., closed on Mondays. 3660 Waialae Ave., 737-1177., 3660.com.



$29!  Goat cheese salad ($9) and housemade gnocchi ($20). 

This hip new eatery  at the top of Wai‘alae has its fair share of big-ticket dishes—filet mignon, lobster—but it’s also got the basics down pat. We opened up simple—a goat cheese salad with mesclun greens, candied walnuts, strawberries and an orange balsamic vinaigrette. For the entrée, we chose supremely tender gnocchi, made in-house every day. Sundried tomatoes gave welcome bursts of flavor to the already rich and creamy Gorgonzola sauce.  Monday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday, closed except for private events. 3605 Waialae Ave., 426-3552.

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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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