Hawaii Local Grindz: Alakea

Save money on food by eating like a local when you book a Hawaii Vacation Package.*

A small lunch counter near many popular Honolulu attractions serves up everything from burgers to Bimbim Kooksoo. (Yeah, I don’t know what that is either but there is a picture to help me decide.) I stopped to look at the pictures of food many times before I went inside the bright yellow counter on the corner of Alakea and King Streets in downtown Honolulu.

Both breakfast and lunch menus include what would be considered traditional mainland food, local Hawaii favorites, and Korean specialties. So, of course, breakfast includes a Loco Moco ($4.50) but the Sunshine Platter is my favorite. It comes with one breakfast meat and two eggs with rice ($3.29). The reason I love it is the list of what is considered “breakfast meat” in Hawaii: bacon, Portuguese sausage, turkey bacon, Vienna sausage, corned beef hash, luncheon meat, spam, and ham steak (some places add hot dogs). I usually get the Morning Sandwich: a fried egg and choice of breakfast meat for $2.45. The egg is fried as soon as you order it, so the large sandwich arrives warm and toasty.

The lunch menu lists bentos, hamburgers, sandwiches like grilled cheese or tuna — all for three dollars or less. Local favorites come as the standard Hawaii plate lunch: an entree (like Teri Beef or Shoyu Chicken) with two scoops of rice and tossed or macaroni salad. These cost from six to seven dollars and include a lot of food.

Monday through Friday $5 daily specials feature Korean entrees such as: Fried Mandoo, Meat Jun, Bulgogi, or Bibim Kooksoo as well as Lemon or Garlic Chicken and wings. In addition to the pictures, the daily specials are usually in a glass cafeteria-style counter so you can look at them before you order. Every day it is possible to get a mini plate for $5: a piece of steak, chicken, fish or shrimp with one scoop of rice and a small portion of salad.

Things to know:

Alakea is in the central business district of Honolulu, near the State Capitol, Iolani Palace and the King Kamehameha I statue. It is walking distance from Aloha Tower. It is not close to Waikiki.

Bring cash. As with many local lunch counters and food trucks in Hawaii, Alakea does not accept credit or debt cards.

There are a couple of stools at a small counter but that’s it for interior seating. Get take-out and find a shady spot outside to eat.

Closed on Sunday.

The woman at the counter is always friendly and helpful. I do not know if she is the owner, but she is always smiling and welcoming.

* “grindz” means food in Hawaii.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher