Only looks appetizing if you've earned it in a good swell. Plate lunch. Kona Kakes & Plates.
  • Only looks appetizing if you've earned it in a good swell. Plate lunch. Kona Kakes & Plates.
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Kona Kakes & Plates

5401 Linda Vista Road #402, Linda Vista

It's kind of funny how nostalgia works. Take plate lunches, for example. The Hawaiian lunch staple usually involves some sort of cheap protein, a scoop of rice, and macaroni salad. There's nothing particularly alluring or memorable about that except for its connection to Hawaii. For this reason alone, it holds a cherished place in our hearts. Because everything about Hawaii is and always has been perfect (I'm pretty sure that's written into one of Newton's laws or something).

Colorfully modest storefront off Morena Blvd.

Or so I figured when I walked into Kona Kakes and Plates, a small Hawaiian spot next to the Ballast Point tasting room, in the shadow of USD. I've devoured a few post-surf plate lunches — in Maui, Oahu, Kauai — and, oh man, do I remember them being good.

I also remember them not being filling enough. So when I dallied over choosing between the plate lunch classic kalua pork, and a slow-roasted pork special the Kona Kakes cook assured me had been cooking overnight, I assumed I could knock'em both out without breaking a sweat and ordered the mixed plate.

Okay, first of all, I hadn't just been surfing island waves for three hours, and apparently 30 minutes' worth of laps don't inspire the same level of appetite. The mixed plate was a lot of food, especially for 10 bucks.

Second, though I was dining in, they served my plate lunch in a Styrofoam to-go container. Since I've recently had a less than thrilling experience with heaping piles of modestly priced pork and rice served in Styrofoam, my eyes and stomach grew leery.

But as I strive to be a professional eater of pigs in polystyrene blankets, I dug right in. The slow-roasted pork was fairly good, with really tasty gravy, though for a low heat cook I would really expect a little more tenderness from the meat.

I actually preferred the kalua, shredded and mixed with cabbage for a satisfying texture. The smoky flavor wasn't the best ever, but mixed up in the rice it made a nice foil for the mac salad. What can I say about that? It tasted of mayo.

Enjoying Kona Kakes demands a worthy context. Given its proximity to the tasting room and university, I could probably recommend the place as a decent, affordable study break or soak-up-the-Sculpin type spot. But mostly, I'd suggest surfers, looking to extend the stoke of that appetite-inducing morning session, might be in the right frame of mind to conjure a little North Shore nostalgia with a quick plate lunch here. Personally, I'm still on the lookout for a good poke salad.

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Ian Anderson June 16, 2014 @ 6:21 p.m.

Well I'll be a haole gringo, you're right. Thanks for the correction.


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