Da Kine's Plate Lunches
4120 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach
1635 Sweetwater Road, Suite H, National City
For a real Kalua pig, you have to cook it imu style -- in the ground. Half an hour a pound. You need to split open banana-tree stumps and put them in the hole with leaves of the ti-tree so their liquids all provide steam. And you need wood from the Kiawe tree to give flavor, as well as natural Hawaiian rock salt and porous rocks that won't explode in the heat. On the other hand, you could just go to Da Kine's. This is the Hawaiian place that Nelson and Belen Ishii started in Pacific Beach and then National City to cater to San Diego's Hawaiian community. Any time of day, they're crowded with homesick Hawaiians who crave the taste of Kalua pig, Portuguese sausage and eggs, or a traditional plate of mahi mahi grilled over an open fire with lemon and green onions. "This food is exactly what we'd eat back home," says Marie, who works behind the counter, "except back there, everybody would be eating outside." Marie says things are relaxed like at home too. Sundays, the daily special is Lau-Lau with poi -- pork with fish wrapped in taro leaves and slow-roasted in the oven. Saturday, it's a surprise. The menu says, "I'll figgah it out wen I get up, okay?"