An update on my favorite eateries.
1. Taiyo Ramen, Ala Moana. Just added unagi plate to the specials. Also, they finally went beserk and decided to combine fried rice with beef (or chicken) curry. Astounding. I like the miso ramen, but I love the way they make their curry. Best gyoza in town. Plenty garlic.
2. Ray's Cafe, Kalihi. Best value for the buck in town. Rib eye steak is sensational at a reasonable price. Only humbug is parking.
3. Rainbow Drive In, Kapahulu. Still my favorite for cheap chili plate, and the Asian cole slaw is a hidden gem. This plate is pretty much the only time I'll let myself eat mac salad.
4. Blue Water Shrimp Truck, Salt Lake. Don't know about the other locations, but these guys crank out a mean garlic steak plate, and the fish specials are solid, too. Sometimes opakapaka. Sometimes ahi. Served with tossed salad and garlic bread. Very consistent and good value.
5. Highway Inn, Waipahu. Kind of out of the way for townies, but if you're in Waipahu and want reasonable prices and great local style food, this is a winner. I recommend the chop steak plate, though the laulau and kalua pig are top line, too. It's a bit more pricey since it's "nice" restaurant with waitresses, but worth taking the family to.
6. Gina's BBQ, Market City. I'm biased since this is close to my home, but they still make a killer kal bi and until recently, was open late (11 p.m.), perfect for late-night workers like me. The basics are good, too, like bi bim bap and any of the soups.
7. Bale (any). I know this seems out of place, but I love the pastrami sandwich. Normally, I like sandwiches to have mustard and cheese (melted), but this one needs no mustard. Just the pickled veggies and that stupendous crusty bread (tender inside) baked daily in their bakery ... hits the spot when I need a fairly healthy snack. (Healthier than McDonald's and Burger King.)
8. Faith's Drive In, formerly Tasty Freeze (a.k.a. Waianae Drive In). They still make the hamburger special with home-cut fries (Idaho potatoes) and mustard-mayo dipping sauce on the side. Nothing spectacular. Just the occasional good greasy that hits the spot, and super affordable. Always a must when visiting Waianae.
9. Waianae Store. Just for the custom-made poke. All the ingredients are there for you, including inamona and limu.
10. Sunnyside, Wahiawa still makes some of the best plate lunches, the kind that actually have vegetables on the plate. I like their mahi plate after a baseball game next door at Fred Wright Park. They're also famous for their pies, but I have never tried one. They always sell out by afternoon.
Honorable mention: Ezogiku University for the seafood ramen. Nice, kind of thick, but great on a blustery night. Also, pho with beef from Pho South King. Super cheap and fresh.