Honolulu Cheap Eats!
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It isn’t hard to eat cheap. After all, Hawaii is packed with plate-lunch places that serve up heaping clamshells of meat and rice. But what if you want to eat well? For you, here’s HONOLULU Magazine’s tour of 67 cheap eats, from burgers to soft-shell crab to frugal finds with a view: fun and delicious meals you can afford to eat every day of the week (and would want to).
At this new, rustically-styled eatery, everything is under $15. Sandwiches can be simple and perfect, like the pastrami sandwich ($10.75), housemade rye bread piled high with pastrami. But you must also have pie—both savory and sweet. Try the meat ’n’ potatoes pot pie ($12.75), and to finish, the sweet berry hand-held pie ($5.25), which will remind you of childhood Hostess fruit pies, but so much better, with blackberries, strawberries and blueberries encased in a sugar-crusted flaky pie dough. 820 Olowalu Village Road, Maui, (808) 662-3600, leodas.com.
Try the Egyptian baked chicken, saffron rice and Greek salad as part of a ridiculously un-mini plate ($6). There are also plenty of other options here: vegetarians and meat lovers alike will find sustenance in an Egyptian veggie curry or Moroccan chicken, for instance. For an extra $1.50, upgrade your salad to mango or a vegan Egyptian potato salad, to name just a few. Pair it all with a smoothie, such as the Pineapple Craze ($3), pineapple and peach blended with lychee sorbet, and don’t forget dessert: freshly baked baklava ($1.50). 2469 S. King St., 941-1313.
This new, stylish restaurant in Chinatown has old Chinese ladies dining side by side with the plaid and tattooed set. They come to slurp up ramen in bowls big enough to wash your face in. Both the Lucky Bowl ($8), with a perfect soft-boiled egg, green onion and fresh ginger, and the Shrimp Kimchee Bowl ($12), adorned with tempura shrimp, have a rich, porky, almost milky broth. Lucky belly, indeed. 50 N. Hotel St., 531-1888.
Drop in? Don’t mind if we do, especially for the vegetarian bean skin ball on choy sum ($9.95), plump packages of shiitake and bamboo shoots wrapped in paper-thin tofu skin. Or order the ground pork and tofu in sesame shao bing ($12.95), and stuff the crumbly, hoisin-flavored mix into shao bing, somewhere between bread and pie crust. 1088 S. Beretania St., 526-9522.
Pork katsu at Ginza Bairin is not your $7 greasy plate-lunch affair. Here, kurobota pork loin katsu can run you $36, making the pork tenderloin katsu sandwich ($10) a deal. Juicy pork, fried light and crispy, is swiped with a plummy tonkatsu sauce and sandwiched between white bread (with the crusts cut off). It’s served alongside a bottomless chiffonade of cabbage salad, with a choice of dressings, including a shiso ume vinaigrette that endows this homely vegetable with a delicacy we never knew it had. 255 Beach Walk, 926-8082.
Helena’s famous pipikaula short ribs are gratifying in their crunchy, chewy, beef jerkylike exterior, providing contrast to their thick, meaty insides. Dip them in chili-pepper water and round out the meal with smoky kalua pig and salty lomi salmon, all part of “Menu C” ($14.95). Fixin’s also include poi, onions, coarse Hawaiian salt and haupia. 1240 N. School St., 845-8044, helenashawaiianfood.com.
Be ready and waiting when Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas opens its doors at 5:30 p.m. to grab one of the 15 seats at the bar, then reward your taste buds with an hour of half-off regular menu prices. Not to be missed: the sizzling hamachi carpaccio ($6.25), paper-thin slices of fish, diced tomatoes and tofu in a pool of truffled ponzu. Bonus: Order off Vino’s menu when both restaurants are open—we recommend the oven-roasted Maine lobster ($9.50) with risotto, porcini mushrooms and smoked trout caviar bathed in a creamy tarragon buerre blanc. Restaurant Row, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., 533-4476.