Island Style Hawaii is a favorite of one of my "customers" and after finding out that I'm originally from Hawaii she had asked me what I thought of the place. I told her that I'd had had my fill of these Hawaiian BBQ type of places and really hadn't been motivated to visit. But one day at work I got a call. She had a meeting in the same building and decided to drop of "some lunch" for me......from Island Style. How sweet.
So I suddenly had mini-plates of Garlic Chicken and Mochiko Chicken on my hands.
Now, I didn't expect Sugoi's or Mitsu-ken, and this was pretty mediocre. Even though she had picked this up on the way to our offices, it hadn't held up well and was more gummy than crisp. I expected more garlic flavor, but what I mostly got was burnt bitterness. Sugoi and Mitsu-ken have both garlic flavor in the seasoning for the chicken as well as a sauce; it reminds me a bit of karaage. This was basically fried chicken.
It's the Mochiko Chicken that had the sauce.
While I thought the batter on this was a bit better; the sauce was pretty one-dimensional. This style of chicken isn't really hard to make.
I gotta say, for a mini-plate, the portion sizes were quite hefty. Compre the $6.99 mini-plate with the $11 food truck plate lunch.
The rice was fine, but I really didn't care for the potato "mac" salad. The quotes on the "mac" is because this was like chopped spaghetti noodles. It also just tasted of plain mayonnaise with no other seasoning. The young lady really wanted to know what I thought, so I told her. Man, if I were a millionaire, I'd love to buy her a ticket to HNL, so she could actually have the real deal.
Anyway, this got the ball rolling so I decided to drop by the place. It's in Pacific Beach, near the corner of Cass and Garnet. I can honestly say, I don't get down here very often.
Wasn't this a location of Rakadeka in a previous life? So, it was a Saturday morning and I'd read that the place opens at 11; so I got there at 1105.....no Bueno. Must've been on Hawaiian Time. So I took a walk around the block. I returned at 1120 and the open sign was on; but the door was still locked....go figure. Eventually, I did get in.
The menu had all the usual suspects. Since this was a weekend and I could definitely just roll back home and take a nap, I decided to add another one to my Loco Moco collection. I ordered a regular sized Loco Moco ($9.29).
This was a passable Hawaiian BBQ/Chain style loco moco. The beef patty was cooked to death and tough. The rice was strange, some of it was dry and hard and the rest really mushy. The eggs were nice and runny, though I enjoy a bit of crispness around the edges for a textural contrast and these weren't seasoned, thus in dire need of some salt. The gravy was on the thinner side, but other than having a bit too much black pepper was fine.
During this visit, I noticed an "Aloha Friday Special" ($13.99) on the menu. So, with the Missus at work, I returned on my way home that Friday.
Man, this was a hefty plate. First things first. I noticed a lot of liquid that smelled like laulau at the bottom of the package. I opened the container up to see all the liquid from the laulau on the bottom. It hadn't been drained well.
The laulau itself wasn't very good. This being "mainland laulau" I expected no salted fish, but the pork was really dry and stringy, and the luau leaves weren't cooked enough for my taste and were hard. Even here in the laulau wasteland that is San Diego, I thought Poke, Etc was better.
I'm still not a fan of the potato mac salad; though I did find a couple of small cubes of potato in this. It really needs a bit more seasoning.
The kalua pork was not bad. On the dry side, the trick I learned when I worked drive-in kitchens back home was to mix the fat and liquid that drained off the pork back into it when shredding. It did have enough salt and smoke flavor though.
I didn't expect much of the lomi salmon and it was just that. Really in need of seasoning; the tomatoes not ripe enough, too watery, quite bland.
The service very laid back. The young lady at the front likes to spend her time on the iPad. Not sure if I'll return and if I do, what I would get....the katsu perhaps? Saimin? I dunno.
Here's a to Soo's visits to Island Style.
Island Style Hawaii BBQ & Local Food
4508 Cass St
San Diego, CA 92109
Mon - Wed 11am - 10pm
Thurs - Sat 11am - 2am
Sun 11am - 8pm