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.
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Omelet rice, Kokoro Tei, $5.50
In Japan, omurice is popular with college students and other big eaters because it’s cheap, tasty and filling. The same can be said about Kokoro Tei’s omelet rice: a plateful of rice mixed with chicken and onions and topped with a meaty demi-glace, all under a fluffy blanket of fried eggs. It’s cooked to order, so call ahead or be prepared to wait 10 minutes. It’s also the perfect dish after a pub crawl—too bad Kokoro Tei closes at 8. (About two-thirds of the made-to-order bentos, by the way, are also less than $6.)
2424 S. Beretania St., 951-5656; 2310 Kuhio Ave., 924-8500
Slice of pizza, Agostino's, $5
Agostino Trentecoste slides a freshly made pizza into a wood-fired oven, set up in the parking lot of a Waikiki coin laundry. “The recipe is 90 years old!” Trentecoste says everything with gusto. “It’s from my great-grandfather!” Sold by the giant, quarter-pie slice for $5, the pizza is bright with a simple marinara, full of deep garlic flavors and sitting atop a crust that’s thin and soft enough to fold over, yet crispy and chewy at the edges. “My family is seven generations in Sicilia!” Trentecoste proclaims. “This is Sicilian pizza.”
2463 Kuhio Ave., 469-7053
Saimin Burger, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, $5.95
Knock-offs are always cheaper than the original: L&L’s saimin burger is almost half the price of the original Ramen Burger. L&L’s version uses a pretty standard fast-food hamburger patty, but the teriyaki-like sauce and crisped-up saimin noodles that form the buns of this sandwich make it totally enjoyable. Not to mention definitely memorable.
Multiple locations, hawaiianbarbecue.com
Lay it on. Why an egg? Japanese love it, yes, but raw egg is also a traditional dipping sauce for sukiyaki.
Photo: Steve Czerniak
Sweet beef bowl, Marukame Udon, $5.20
The happiest bowl at Marukame, the cafeteria-style Japanese udon specialist, has no noodles at all. The minimalist-sounding sweet beef bowl starts with a generous portion of rice that’s topped with a ring of paper-thin beef and onions simmered in a light soy. Add colorful mounds of red ginger, briny nori, green onion, tempura sprinkles and, if you like, a barely poached egg, and there’s more than enough to keep your palate dancing.
1104 Fort St. Mall, 545-3000 (at downtown location only)
Kimchee fried rice, Sidewalk Deli, $5.00
Find this little convenience store in a corner of Fort Street Mall for the kimchee fried rice, made with housemade kimchee and capped with a thin sheet of fried egg. It’s homey and comforting, as is the experience—the friendly Korean auntie who runs the shop makes the rice on a plug-in electric griddle.
Chaplain Lane at Fort Street Mall
Moroccan chicken, Da Spot, $6
One bite of Da Spot’s honey-tinged Moroccan chicken, and you’ll understand why cinnamon belongs with meat. In fact, you’ll get the whole sweet-savory-spice balance that makes a lot of meat dishes along the ancient world’s spice route sing. If you go with the mini plate, you’ll also get a green salad and two scoops rice of your choice. Make like the regulars and ask for extra sauce on the rice.
2469 S. King St., 941-1313.
Avocado sandwich, Summer Frappe, $5
This Chinatown spot is well-known for its fresh fruit smoothies, less-known for its banh mi. While the sandwiches are not traditional, they are delicious. The avocado one is a favorite—what appears to be an entire avocado jammed into a Vietnamese baguette, topped with a salad of veggies, pickled daikon and carrots, and some Maggi sauce for seasoning.
82 N. Pauahi St.
Tomato bisque, Aloha Salads, $5.50
At Aloha Salads, $5.50 gets you an 8-ounce bowl of divinely rich bisque topped with fresh basil and parmesan, plus a good half-round of warm pita bread to go with it. It’s soup from a takeout counter, but it feels indulgent.
Locations at Kahala Mall, Kailua Shopping Center, Kapolei Commons Shopping Center and 1102 Bishop St., alohasalads.com