Aloha, folks! Today I would like to tell you more about plate lunches. When visiting Hawaii, you might wonder: “what is a plate lunch?” “Why is it so popular?” “Are there different kinds of plate lunches?” “Help me out, Cuz!” Let’s get into it. A plate lunch is a scoop of mac (macaroni) salad, two scoops of rice, and some kind of protein. Among the popular proteins are chicken katsu (fried chicken breasts or thighs), kalua pig, shrimp, kalbi ribs, pork lau lau, and loco moco. Many places also serve a "mini" plate, which includes just one scoop of rice and a cut-down portion of the meat. According to the Hawaii Ocean Project: It's believed plate lunches originated during the 1880s in the pineapple and sugar plantations. Workers would bring bento boxes for lunch that consisted of leftovers from the previous evening, usually fish or meat, which were then supplemented with rice to make the meals more filling. From these humble beginnings came food carts and trucks. The carts visited the fields every afternoon allowing the workers to purchase inexpensive plates full of food. It was during this time that the moniker "plate lunch" was attached. A simple mac salad, made with mayonnaise and salt and pepper, was added to the plate around this time. Even though that era ended around the 1950s, plate lunches were here to stay. Many restaurants, diners, and drive-ins thrived selling plate lunches. Throughout the islands, L&L Drive-In is a popular joint for inexpensive and ono plate lunches. But if you want to try one of the original plate lunch drive-ins, go to Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu. They still serve their meals using a plate covered in wax paper and held together with a rubber band. Trying to lose weight? You might want to skip the plate lunch. However, some places have slightly healthier options like grilled shrimp and grilled chicken breasts. Most places will allow you to replace the mac salad with a green salad. That said, if you really want to go for it, you might want to start with an indulgent loco moco. Just don't forget your Kimo's ONO Grindz Chili Pepper Water!
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