If you feel like you’ve made a wrong turn into a residential area, you’re headed in the right direction. Fragrant moke will guide you the rest of the way to a green building with one sign: “North Shore Hawaiian Plate Lunch.”
The restaurant looks like a shack you’d see in Hawaii, with about six tables inside. A warm “Aloha” and some N.S.H.P.L. paraphernalia decorate the wall above the counter. The gal behind the register explained that most people come for Korean chicken, but they’ll happily create a sampler plate with some of everything. The other three meat options are Kalua pork, Aunt Sally’s shoyu chicken, and Taipin’s teriyaki chicken.
At all of $9, a large sampler plate is practically a meal for four hungry people: two huge scoops of sticky rice, cold macaroni salad, and four generous portions of meat — all packed into in a white Styrofoam box. The thick kalua pig is slow-cooked, “Hawaiian style,” and the saltiest of the four. Aunt Sally’s shoyu chicken is marinated and cooked in soy-ginger sauce. Teriyaiki chicken is grilled with an “ono” teriyaki sauce. And sweet Korean chicken is marinated and grilled in soy-garlic sauce. Garlic is its key ingredient.
Except for the pork, the meats tend to mix together, so it’s helpful that the box they’re served in is labeled. There is a counter with sriracha, standard spicy chili, and sweet barbecue sauce, but I suggest using them sparingly so the flavors of the meat stand out.
Cold macaroni is a nice complement to the hot meat. It is more like salad than pasta, with strange but harmless pieces of carrot. Eat the rice from the bottom, where the meat juices and mac flavors have soaked in. You’ll also discover a bit of crunchy cabbage coleslaw down there.
If you’re thirsty, there’s a rainbow of Hawaiian sodas, and if it’s sunny, you should eat at the red picnic tables outside. You can almost imagine you’re in Hawaii. Almost.