*** Update - Da Kine's in Pacific Beach has closed, you can find a short update here, near the bottom of the page. The Mira Mesa and National City locations are still open, and a new location in Point Loma is coming soon.
Warning: Pidgin English has Been Liberally Used in the Creation of this Post
When I first started coming to San Diego on a regular basis back in the late 90's, Da Kine's was pretty much the "only show in town". Partially because of that reason, Nelson Ishii has carved himself a pretty loyal customer base. In addition, I've found that DaKines' plate lunches are a bit lighter, with items such as Grilled Fish and the Teriyaki Chicken here is skinless. I visit DaKine's usually only the Autumn and Winter months because of the crowds and traffic in Pacific Beach.
DaKines has their own share of detractors, especially from some of the Ex-Pat Kama'ainas' that I know. A recent phone conversation went like this:
"Eh, you wanna go Dakines"
"Dakines, nah, laita's"
"First, too many make-pretend, wanna be surfa's, two, they are tight with the portions, and three, they dip the chicken"
"They dip the chicken?"
"Yeah, they precook the chicken, put em' in a pan, and when there's an order they put the chicken on a plate and squirt sauce over it!"
"Oooh-kay, next time then?"
One of the things I do like about DaKines is that they have some "classic" plate lunches that the plethora of Hawaiian BBQ places in San Diego don't(and no it's not the grilled Mahi), like Beef Stew. Also, many of the employees at DaKines speak pidgin, and I'm almost sure of a "pidgin" conversation there.
Two items on the menu at DaKines gives me a problem; it's the attempt at humor in using pidgin for the "mixed plates" there. The 2 item(2 entree) plate is called "Da Bugga" and the 3 item plate is called "Wop Yo Jaws". Which can lead you to interesting little exchanges like:
"What you like?"
"I like Wop Ya Jaws"
"Can I help you"
"Yeah, I like Da Buggah"
For those interested in a translation you can go here: to a Pidgin English Dictionary.
Today; looking over the menu, I noticed that the Beef Stew had been covered over; the Counter Person told me that it was due to lack of demand. Bumma! So I ended up ordering a " Two item Mixed Plate" (sorry still can't make myself say "I want Da Buggah"). With Chicken Katsu and Grilled Teriyaki Chicken ($7.00):
While waiting, I noticed that I was the only customer in the whole restaurant wearing slacks; everybody else were wearing shorts! Took my plate lunch home and got ready to eat. A couple of first impressions, the portions are on the smaller side, but this didn't bother me. All this meant was no "Kanak-attack" (food coma) after eating. The chicken katsu was very good, nice and crunchy and not oily, and best of all, good old Hawaiian style Katsu sauce was provided - ketchup based, not a watery sweet sour icky L&L sauce. Though not even close to say, Grace's in portion size and taste, this was good. The Teriyaki chicken consisted of two skinless pieces; one small thigh, and one smaller thigh, or knee, or maybe ankle - it was a really small piece of chicken! Though the chicken was obviously grilled, it was very bland, and flavorless. DaKines has a bad habit of serving mushy rice, though this time it was fine. Even though the macaroni salad had celery, carrots, the one item it needed was some "umph", it was very boring.
On my last visit, I just got the Chicken Katsu plate($5.75):
This time the Katsu was okay though a bit burnt, with some bitter pieces. The rice was cooked with too much water and mushy, and the macaroni salad was still bland. I think I'll wait a while before my next visit!
Some notes on DaKine's. There are two locations of DaKine's, one in the Promenade Mall located in Pacific Beach, right above Tony Roma's. There is validated underground parking. The other location is on Sweetwater Road in National City. Everybody at DaKine's is very nice and friendly. The PB location has a nice "patio" where you can have a plate lunch and check out the beach. There are daily specials; Laulau is served on Sunday. The usual suspects like, Kalua Pork and Cabbage, Saimin, and Spam Musubi, are on the menu.
4120 Mission Blvd. #208
San Diego, CA 92108