67 Fun and Delicious Meals You Can Afford to Eat Every Day in Honolulu
HONOLULU Magazine’s tour of 67 cheap eats, from burgers to soft-shell crab to frugal finds with a view.
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CAFE JULIA’S VIETNAMESE-INSPIRED SALAD, $12.
PHOTO: COURTESY CAFE JULIA
Salad as a meal
Vegetables and greens don’t usually fall in the realm of cheap eats; it’s far easier to find inexpensive fried chicken and burgers than salads. Here, we give you five delicious reasons to eat your vegetables.
The Vietnamese-inspired salad ($12) is a traditional Vietnamese vermicelli bowl dressed up with impeccable ingredients (MAO Farms organic greens and pickled, thinly sliced radishes and carrots, tender, grilled pork) while maintaining all the flavors that make it great: fresh cilantro, mint and a chili-lime dressing to add vibrancy and bite.
In the Downtown YWCA, 1040 Richards St., (808) 533-3334, cafejuliahawaii.com.
We’re guessing Sorabol wants to keep this salad a secret to non-Koreans. How else to explain the hae dupbap’s ($14.99) demure translation as “rice topped with vegetables” when it’s actually a thrilling raw ahi rice salad? A giant bowl holds chunks of ahi, shredded seaweed and daikon, tobiko, and chopped green leaf lettuce. Mix in the spicy, tangy, sweet dressing, fragrant with sesame oil, and the bowl of rice that comes on the side. What you get: a simultaneously warm and cold salad, crisp and soft, and incredibly filling, especially when you take into account the banchan and soup included.
805 Keeaumoku St., (808) 947-3113, sorabolhawaii.com.
Beet Box Café
Tucked in the back of Celestial Natural Foods, this little café (and its cooks) groove to their own beat. Any of the items on its menu will fulfill your veggie lust, but for your salad fix, get the Greektown salad with falafel ($14.50), crunchy balls of herby goodness.
66-443 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, (808) 637-3000.
The Macro Plate ($9.50) changes almost daily, delivering a vivid salad of diverse flavors and textures. Ginger miso slaw is heaped with a grain salad (miso barley and soybean one day, hoisin quinoa with jicama the next), roasted red beets and orange kabocha, and homemade pickles (anything Kale’s cooks can get their hands on—daikon, green papaya, or apple).
Inside Kale’s Natural Foods, Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, 377 Keahole St. #A-1, (808) 396-6993.
California Pizza Kitchen
New on the menu at the ever-popular eatery is the caramelized peach salad ($13.15). You won’t go hungry after its mix of cool field greens, spinach, dried cranberries, red onions, toasted pecans and Gorgonzola cheese, capped with hot, sweet peaches. We tried it with bacon ($2 more), because ... bacon! But we have to say we’ve learned that bacon does not, in fact, go with everything. Go with chicken ($4 extra) or shrimp or salmon ($4.50 each) instead.
Multiple locations on Oahu, cpk.com.
The chef probably won’t let you order, preferring you leave the choices up to him. But if you do get a chance to pick your own menu items, don’t miss the fried, firm tofu ($7.75) with garlic sauce, topped with fried basil leaves, or crab stir-fried noodles ($11.95), both dishes an addictive blend of salty, sweet, hot and sour.
66-460 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, (808) 381-8091.
At what other Thai place can you get soft-shell crab on drunken noodles ($13), with deep-fried, crunchy and succulent crab, bedded with saucy wide rice noodles? Other deviations from the Thai curry and pad thai routine include crispy, battered fish dressed with yellow curry ($12).
95-390 Kuahelani St., Suite 3C, Mililani, (808) 853-4724.
Serg’s Mexican Kitchen
Take a cue from the sign boasting “home of the famous flautas,” and order the flautas plate ($9.95). It’s one of the most popular dishes at the small Manoa eatery for good reason: the beef is well-seasoned, the tortilla perfectly fried and crispy, all topped with avocado salsa, fresh, diced onions, cilantro and cheese. A side of black beans and rice go along with the flauta’s fried goodness. Finish dinner with a fresh-made churro ($1.50). Even better, Serg’s is BYOB.
2740 E. Manoa Road, 988-8118. There’s also a location in Waimanalo: 41-865 Kalanianaole Highway, (808) 259-7374.