I recently saw the storefront for Kona Kakes in Linda Vista....I had wondered where they had gone to. What really got my attention was the new addition to the name....the "& Plates" part. So Kona Kakes was now serving plate lunches? This I had to check out.
So a few days later I stopped by......to check out the plates.
I've had the cakes from Kona Kakes a couple of times and it was quite good. So I really couldn't wait to check out the "plates" which I guess are served between 11am and 4pm Monday thru Saturday.
You know...every place makes "sliders" now and a riff on nachos. I decided to try something basic and perhaps not as easy as it sounds; the Teriyaki Beef Plate ($8). Plates some with two "sides" which can include rice, green salad, quinoa salad (??), and mac salad. Hard to guess what I chose, huh?
First the basics. The rice was perfect, though I'm not a big fan of the mac salad here....too loose and too sweet. The beef was quite tough; literally the two dollar steak. It really lacked flavor and was also cold, like it had been sitting in a pan somewhere and maybe put in the microwave for a (too) short time. It lacked color, which made it look less appetizing. The sauce totally reminded me of the teriyaki we used to make; when we couldn't get mirin....which was a good part of my childhood. It was too salty. Frankly, I don't care if you microwave your meat, but marinate it well, some color would be good, too. I've moved on from using thick cut low quality beef, you can still get decent thin cut beef which you can marinate appropriately and still have osmething tender. It wasn't horrible; just mediocre.
Still, I decided to try them one more time. This time I went with the Kalua Pork Plate, which was really cheap at $7.
For this price, I figured Oven Kalua Pork, which it was, I also kinda assumed Kalua Pork and Cabbage, which it also was, though I wish they made that clear on the menu....the "local" in me I guess. The flavor of the liquid smoke was decent, a mild "nose" and not an over-powering flavor, though it could have used more salt, and frankly more fat. The cabbage was still fairly crisp as well. The pork was on the dry side and this had the real feeling of something from a chafing dish. The onions were basically raw......which is great if it were sweet onions...which is one of my favorite things with a sprinkle of alaea, the mildly sweet sea salt tinged pink from red volcanic soil. Here it was basically pungent brown onions....too much for the plate raw. I did like the quinoa salad, though it was a bit under-dressed for my taste, it still was refreshing.
The folks here are very nice and friendly, but it seems that the plates are here to supplement the "kakes", and I wish it was more than that. Maybe I'm being too harsh because I grew up eating this stuff, but frankly, I think this isn't as good as L&L, and I'm not a big fan of the paint-by-numbers Hawaiian Barbecue. I really think they can do better and hope they do, especially since they have a potential goldmine by catering to Ballast Point next door, which has a beer pairing. I'm wondering, do they have a beer pairing for their cakes, which are really good?
Kona Kakes & Plates
5401 Linda Vista Road Suite 402
San Diego, CA 92110
Lunch Served 1100am - 4pm Monday - Saturday