In our ongoing quest to find the ultimate lunch wagon plate lunch, this past Friday we decided to try out Ronnie’s Express, which is located at the park between Pfleuger Honda and the Chevrolet car dealership (formerly Honolulu Ford) on Ala Moana Blvd..
We arrived at 12:30 noon on we call in Hawaii, “Aloha Friday”. With that, like many local eateries around the islands, the featured cuisine is Hawaiian food. Here you can see the day’s menu as it ties in with this theme…
Well, as you can see, 12:30pm was a bit late for this wagon, as more than half of the items were already sold out. Bummers. I would’ve really liked to try that meat loaf or the fried chicken. In fact, none of us were particularly “ono” for Hawaiian food on this day, but that’s all there was so we gave it a shot.
Diner “E” ordered the (“Hawaiian Style”) Beef Stew…
He said it was just OK (as in average), flavor-wise, also noting that it tasted like it had been simmering too long in the pot, so everything was just a homogenous “mush”. You can kind of tell just by looking at it in the photo. And no wonder to that. His order was the last of what the last in the pot as the owner said, and after he ordered it, the gal asked him to kindly cross off that item on the menu board! So apparently we really did catch the tail-end of the lunch-hour rush here. He did like the Macaroni “Mac” Salad, which he complimented that it was creamy and perfectly seasoned.
Diner “A” ordered the Kalua Pig and Cabbage…
He also said it was just OK, with several encounters while chowing through the entree of pieces of Kalua Pig that tasted dried out and over-cooked. Again, likely attributed to having been in the pot or steam pan too long. He ate it all though, if that attests to anything good.
So without much else to choose, I ordered a Laulau and Chicken Long Rice “Combo” plate…
Since they both ordered Mac’ Salad, I opted for the steamed veggies, which I’m guessing were most likely the packages frozen stuff, and all the character of hospital grub.
The Laulau’s “Luau” leaves tasted like it was actually spinach leaves. I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. It also didn’t come with its own Ti Leaf wrapper, which has me thinking they probably have this in a bulk steam pan (not individually portioned) and dished out as shown. There were just a few chunks of pork in it, which certainly had a Laulau flavor to it, although this can’t even come close to the greatness of Young’s or Ono’s. Still, for a $6.50 “Hawaiian food” plate, I wasn’t expecting greatness.
The Chicken Long Rice was the best part and actually really, really ono. You could really taste the ginger and the chicken in the broth, and there were copious amounts of chicken chunks in it. Unlike some places you might go where it’s all long rice and no chicken. If I ever go back, I’d order that again.
As you can see, portions were generous on all our plates.
What’s often an “issue” with lunch wagons is that the food is never HOT (temperature-wise), as was the case here. Food was warm at best, eventually already cold by the time were halfway through the meal in our air conditioned office.
Well, at we tried the place. If they were located closer by our workplace, I’d certainly go back and try that meatloaf, fried chicken or whatever else they put on the menu for the day. I’d also go there earlier and beat the lunch hour rush before everything gets sold out!
According to the owner, they have THREE Ronnie’s Express Lunchwagons, and they also operate Byron’s Express Lunch Wagon near the airport, which has no affiliation with Byron’s Drive-In.
There’s another lunch wagon at the cruise ship pier down the street across Restaurant Row. Perhaps we’ll try there next.
Ronnie’s Express Lunch Wagon
Tasty Island Rating:
Average. (She Go)