Not-so-crunchy Korean chicken, an ice cream scoop of white rice, and there’s that macaroni salad
  • Not-so-crunchy Korean chicken, an ice cream scoop of white rice, and there’s that macaroni salad
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Homestyle Hawaiian

7524 Mesa College Drive, Clairemont

Macaroni salad is a guilty pleasure of mine. Here I write about all kinds of food, and I demand some semblance of quality. But apparently I’m easily won over by a little cold pasta and mayo. It doesn’t make me proud.

But it makes me a sucker for Hawaiian plate lunch, so macaroni salad gets the credit for luring me to Homestyle Hawaiian in Clairemont. They also have locations in the Midway area and Chula Vista.

Hole-in-the-wall Homestyle Hawaiian

Hole-in-the-wall Homestyle Hawaiian

This one’s within eyeshot of Mesa College, and you can believe I felt old wandering into the busy, tiny storefront, where the customers all appeared to be college age and the staff even younger. But if humans of any age have something in common, it’s the need to fill an empty belly.

I needed to decide between the Kalua pig, loco moco, or one of several chicken dishes with my plate lunch, which of course is rounded out by an ice cream scoop of white rice and a simple mac salad of carrot shreds and pepper.

Ordering the loco made me feel too haole, so I was leaning toward pork when I noticed an asterisked note at the top of the menu: “All chicken is made with boneless, skinless hormone-free thighs.”

The idea of hormone-free poultry in a $7–$9 plate lunch suited me just fine and also offset the macaroni salad guilt. I was sold but still needed to settle on which style of chicken — the Japanese (teriyaki or katsu) or Korean. Since I wanted fried, it was then between the panko-fried katsu or crunchy batter-fried Korean, both topped by the restaurant’s “signature lava sauce,” a spicy/sweet soy concoction.

I went Korean, since it’s advertised as being a bit crunchier. I didn’t find it very crunchy and had hoped it would skew spicier than sweet. Still, the texture of the meat was good, and the fried batter satisfying enough. My biggest complaint is that despite the progressive use of hormone-free chicken, the lunches are served in Styrofoam containers, whether you eat in or dine out.

So while this satisfies the Hawaiian-food itch and my personal desire for unmanipulated ingredients, the use of Styrofoam overrides my desire to return. That said, the mac salad did not disappoint.

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Kirk K July 21, 2015 @ 1:38 p.m.

There ain't nothing haole about a loco moco except possibly the ingredients. It was created on the Big Island of Hawaii at either the Lincoln Grill or Cafe 100 (which still exists) around 1949.


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