Honolulu Super Cheap Eats Under $6
It’s not easy to find meals for $6 or less in Honolulu, and the quest is even more challenging when you narrow the search to those that are memorable.
(page 1 of 4)
The criteria were simple: They had to be filling enough to satisfy a moderate appetite and tasty enough to recommend to friends. The price was capped at $6 before tax. We sampled far more than the dishes you’ll find below, but, in the end, these did a good job of balancing flavor and value—and, happily, all were memorable.
Banh mi Saigon, Ngon, $6
The $6 Banh Mi Saigon at NGON—bursting with fresh flavors and easy on the wallet.
Photos: Steve Czerniak
You can tell a true banh mi by the crackle of the freshly warmed baguette and the slathering of pate. In Saigon, a good schmear of butter goes on the upper crust; at Kakaako’s Ngon, the schmear gets elevated to a hollandaise. In a nod to American palates, the pickled veggies and cilantro are accompanied by your choice of pork or chicken in restrained amounts that don’t overwhelm the other flavors—but you don’t have to go there. Try it as a true banh mi pate.
941 Kawaiahao St., 593-9893
Stewed beef wonton noodles, Rainbow Tea Stop, $5.75
The food court at Maunakea Marketplace isn’t where you’d expect to find a soul-soothing bowl of Chinese noodles, which makes Rainbow Tea Stop’s all the better. The housemade wontons release the scent of sesame oil at first bite, the porky centers bounce back against your teeth and the chunks of beef flank are seasoned and tender. When you’re done, don’t walk away without trying the best custard tart in town. At Rainbow, it’s only $1.
1120 Maunakea St., 386-3388, rainbowteastop.com
Menehune quesadilla, Taco Kabana, $3
The best deal at Taco Kabana, a lunch wagon across Kapiolani Boulevard from the Pan Am Building, isn’t the $1.75 tacos or either of the other two items on the menu. It’s the secret, off-menu Menehune Quesadilla: your choice of carne asada or grilled chicken, cheese, onions, tomatoes and cilantro between two small, grilled, corn tortillas. The meat is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and the onions, from Mexico—like owner Daniel Rodriguez’s parents—are sweet. This quesadilla bulges. Pick it up and eat it like a burger.
1637 Kapiolani Blvd., 364-4729
Mini mix bento, Okata Bento, $5.75
If you’ve ever noticed people randomly standing on a Kaimuki sidewalk for no apparent reason, it’s because every burger and bento at this hole-in-the-wall is cooked to order. “Each bento includes rice, mahimahi, luncheon meat, eggroll, takuan, kamaboko, ume & shredded cabbage,” the sign says—including the mini mix bento, before your two choices go in. Try the crispy chicken katsu and beef teriyaki, both cooked on the flat-top grill while you wait, as are your two pieces of mahi, freshly dipped in egg.
3616 Waialae Ave., 737-6063