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By Steven Li on 2006-06-09

June 09, 2006

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Steph and I decided that lunchwagon people “are just so much better” than normal people. Why? We can’t yet pinpoint it. Maybe it’s the combo of warm Hawaii weather, the local lifestyle and a positive upbeat attitude. Or maybe it’s cause they serve food out of a wagon. That does take some admirable dedication. It’s hot, sweaty, people want their food quick, you gotta offer a good variety (not to mention good price)…and a million other things I can’t remember at the moment. This nameless lunchwagon is situated right across the street from the UH Manoa campus. It’s hidden on the side behind Volcano Joe’s – a pricey and not very good coffee shop/bistro. They really rip you off there (I’ll do my next post on their “smoked ahi focaccia”, which you should never ever get) so you don’t feel bad about using their outdoor tables to sit and eat your plate lunch.

In addition to standard plate lunch fare like garlic chicken, teri beef and mahimahi, they also have a sperate menu of daily specials. Some interesting items were vegetable croquettes and fried aku. Instead of ordering right at the window, the lady behind the counter takes your order, asks in a soft kind voice, “you like kimchee?” (you must answer, “YESYES!”) and commandingly shouts the order to the “kitchen”, “ONE MINI LOCO MOCO KIMCHEE!” She’ll then look at you and go, “oh look at them, working so hard. They all sweaty inside.” Doesn’t she remind you of the aunty you never had? Under most circumstances you don’t want to associate sweaty cooks inside a wagon with your food but because everyone is sweet and hardworking, you simply convince yourself that all this sweat must make it taste extra ‘ono.
The lunch is ready in a matter of minutes and the cook calls out your order while simultaneously scooping up the mac salad. Your styrofoam container, all warm and happy feeling, is handed though the open window and viola, lunch is in your hands!

Ahhhh, the LOCO MOCO. I haven’t had one of these in nearly a year! A whole year! Crap. How time flies. Though not as experienced in loco moco reviewing as Kirk, who has the judging down to an impressive science, I know my mini with kimchee was pretty damn delicious. Aside from the way too small scoop of rice (you definitely need to double up on rice with loco mocos to soak up all the gravy!) the burger was just the right size, abd thick enough to stay moist and juicy with bits of onions. Topped with an over easy egg and healthy scoop of thick and salty gravy, this is plate lunch in it’s most local element. The kimchee, mild and lighted pickled was a nice touch, cutting down the heaviness of mac salad. The salad was however, bland. I could taste nothing but macaroni and mayo. Never mind bits of carrot or celery, there wasn’t even salt or pepper.
Not bad for $3.75 eh? I finished full but not that awful, “ooooh, I just came from a massive potluck” kine gross. Perfect size. Delicious food. And awesome lunchwagon people.



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