Snapshots From Honolulu: Plate Lunch from Monarch Seafoods
I visited Honolulu from May 9 to 16 with fellow Serious Eats contributor and Honolulu native Kathy YL Chan. Here's a food-related snapshot from my vacation.
More Snapshots from Honolulu
Rounding out the top three Hawaiian foodstuffs I wanted to eat during my vacation, the first two being shave ice and malasadas, is the plate lunch, a combination of an entrée, white rice, and macaroni salad. The variety of plate lunches you can get in Honolulu is well represented by The Tasty Island's plate lunch roundup. I can't be the only one who wants to eat pretty much everything on that page.
I tried a handful of plate lunch joints during my one-week trip, my favorite being Monarch Seafoods. Naturally, their menu mostly consists of seafood dishes—ahi sashimi salad, garlic butter sautéed crabmeat stuffed ahi, pan fried butterfish, and lemon peppered broiled salmon to name a few—but they also offer standard non-seafood plate lunch choices, such as hamburger steak, kahlua pig, and garlic chicken. My eating companions and I went with a mixed plate of deep fried poke and mochiko chicken ($8.45) served with white rice and macaroni salad. (Salad and brown rice are also options, but I wanted to go with the more traditional, less health-conscious options.)
In its un-fried form, poke is a chunky raw fish salad (although other kinds of seafood can be used) and is seasoned with any combination of sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed kukui nut, sesame oil, sesame seeds, onion, green onion, seaweed, and chili pepper. In Monarch Seafood's fried form, each giant, meaty chunk is breaded (at least partially with panko) and deep fried. Mochiko chicken is made of garlic and soy sauce-flavored chicken strips coated in glutinous rice flour-based breading and deep fried. The resulting crust isn't as crispy as the fried poke's, but is lighter and puffier with the slightest bit of chewiness.
What better way to top off a meal of fried fish, fried, chicken, white rice, and mayo-laden macaroni salad than with a heaping slice of their homemade, whipped cream-laden banana cream pie ($2.50)? Plate lunch and pie is a beautiful combination.
515 Kalihi Street, Honolulu, HI 96819 (map)