Rinka’s Lunch Sets Are One of the Best Deals in Town
In a pricey corner of Kaka‘ako, filling lunches that are family- and wallet-friendly.
One of my favorite discoveries of 2022 was the lunch sets at Rinka. A new discovery only to me, apparently, because so many people I told about it were already regulars—a friend drives from Kapolei with her family specifically for lunch. Rinka during the day is family friendly for the youngest to oldest generations and serves meticulous Japanese classics in a stylish, airy space at almost plate lunch prices. With lunch sets featuring kurobuta tonkatsu ($21.75), nabeyaki udon ($23.75) and karaage chicken ($13.75) among the choices, you can eat remarkably well here for around $20.
The beef sukiyaki lunch set ($23.75) arrives in a heavy metal pot—tender, fatty, shaved slices of beef layered over tofu and veggies in a sweet shoyu broth, plus a raw egg to whip up with your chopsticks as a traditional dipping sauce. All the sets are rounded out with a warm, silky chawanmushi, rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and a choice of two small sides from a dozen options, including renkon (lotus root), agedashi tofu, or okra. With all the fixings, this is a lunch to luxuriate over.
My favorites are the sushi sets, a bit more expensive, but they also include udon. For the appropriately named “seafood jewelry box” ($27.75), a lidded bowl reveals a sparkling bara chirashi of diced ‘ahi, hamachi, salmon, tamago, with generous dollops of ikura and topped with uni. One of the pricier items is the chirashi ($32.75), which includes some of the usual suspects (‘ahi and hamachi) but also thick slices of chutoro as well as herring roe and sweet, crunchy clam.
The newer options in this area of Ward tilt toward the high end, where even the doughnuts are fancy: Rinka, tucked away by the parking lot, and next door to the said doughnut shop, feels like accessible luxury at lunch. Not that it’s immune to inflation—the prices have been creeping up over the past year. But it’s still one of the best deals in town—I’ll enjoy it as long as it lasts.