When Diner A drove past Side Street Take-Out & Grill off Kalihi and Republican street one day recently, his initial assumption was that this place had ties with the now-famous Side Street Inn near Ala Moana. After he mentioned wanting to try the place, before we visited, we had to confirm first what they were all about, which a quick phone call immediately answered this burning question.
Turns out they have no ties with Colin Nishida’s Side Street Inn. Side Street Grill is operated by a group of guys who are “moonlighting” this business, with their other job over at Ihilani Resort on the west side of Oahu.
And that’s where I’m going to really start this review off . On our first visit, the guys working there were super-friendly with a great attitude and very accommodating. Da’ kine, when you’re there, you feel like you knew them from school or “small keed” time, laddat.
So what get fo’ eat? Greeting you at the service counter are steam trays with some ready-made stuffs…
In the back row is Kalua Pig and Cabbage, Mahimahi with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce, and in the front row is fried chicken and local style beef stew.
To the left of this was a tray of Pork Adobo…
Also behind that was Spaghetti sauce.
The everyday menu board included these items:
Breakfast served with your choice of Fried Rice, Home Fried Potatoes or Steamed Rice.
Big Aloha Breakfast Plate – $5
Steak & Egg – $6.75
Loco Moco – $5.00
Pork Adobo Omelet – $5
Corned Beef Hash & Egg – $4.50
Pancakes – $3.50
Ham & Cheese Omelet – $5.50
Vegetable Omelet – $4.50
Side Street Saimin – $3.50
The Works Omelet – $5.00
Regular Plate – $6
Mixed Plate – $6.75
Mini Plate – $4
Catch of the Day – Pasta of the Day – Bento of the Day
Chicken Katsu – Hamburger Steak – BBQ Beef Short Ribs – Teriyaki Beef Plate
Garlic Shrimp with 21 oz. Soda – $7.99
Side Street Bento Box – $6.25
New York Steak – $6.75
Sandwich, Soup & Salad
Soup & Sandwich Combo – $5.50
Caesar Salad (Shrimp) – $6 (Chicken) – $5.50
Rueben Pastrami Sandwich
Grilled Cheese Sandwich – $4
Chili Fries – $3.75
Onion Rings – $3.75
The menu board also mentions “Special Requests Always Welcome”.
There’s also daily specials printed on paper posted on the wall…
Daily Specials (Wednesday)
Catch of the Day $6
Sauteed Fresh Ahi Fillet with Garlic Butter Sauce
Pasta of the Day – $6
Penne Pasta with Chunky Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread
Bento of the Day – $6
Garlic Chicken and Pork Adobo
*Fried Fresh Ahi Poke Plate $6
*Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Chop with Sauteed Mushroom, Onion and Brown Gravy – $6
*Fried Chicken Plate – $6
10 oz. New York Steak Plate – $6.75
Italian Sausage with Mushroom and Onions – $6
Mahimahi with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce – $6
Pork Adobo Plate – $6
Mixed Plate Special – $6.50
BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Ahi Fillet with Sesame Butter Sauce
The selection and prices look great!
Diner E went with his regular “gauge” plate (the plate he uses to judge a place) and got the Hamburger Steak, making it a mix by adding Pork Adobo along with it…
Diner A also went with his “gauge” plate and got the Teriyaki Beef plate…
I don’t have a “gauge plate” and, as usual, was undecided what to order for quite some time, torn between Sauteed Ahi with Garlic Butter Sauce and the Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Chops, but the mushrooms on the chops won me over, so I went with that…
First let’s talk portions. As you see they’re not shy on that, with enough food piled on to take each plate beyond “regular” to “supersized”.
Now let’s talk taste. This is where we all had a few gripes.
Diner E said his hamburger steak tasted more like meatloaf, and was rather bland. It also lacked that much-desired char-grilled outer crust.
You can tell that just by looking at it…
Hamburger Steak or Meatloaf?
The saving grace on his plate was the Pork Adobo, which was AWESOME, and actually the best thing that came out of there on our visit. Here’s a piece…
Notice the thick layer of fat. So bad, yet soooo gooood! This excellent execution on Pork Adobo had a perfect balance of Shoyu and Vinegar and was moist and tender. You could taste the peppercorn and bayleaf, yet it wasn’t overpowering. As Aunty Marialani would say, “Just right!” Or as our Filipino friends would say, “Masarap!”
Diner A was also disappointed his Teriyaki Beef wasn’t grilled, but tasted griddled on a flat top. Which leads us to question, as to why it’s called Side Street Grill if the food’s not GRILLED?! Turn that propane burner on and flame grill it, please! The marinade was good and beef quality was decent, but lacking the seared edges really can detract from it.
As for my Pork Chops, it was pretty good, but not as “gourmet” as I had hoped, based on the way it’s described on the menu. I couldn’t really distinguish any garlic or herbs as it says it’s marinaded with. Mostly just the brown gravy, which was actually also lacking depth of flavor and viscosity, being too thin. Thankfully the pork chop was cooked properly, being relatively moist and tender. It was also a quite large. I couldn’t finish the whole thing, truthfully.
Garlic Herb Marinaded Pork Chop
The dish’s saving grace was of course the sauteed mushrooms and onions. IMO, that’ll save any plate!
As for the mac sal’, it was too warm (room temp’), and bland as well. Not bad, not great; just nothing to write home or here about; still it must be noted anyhow.
This shot came out blurry, but check out this slab ‘o baby back ribs that came outta’ the kitchen…
Ooooooh, that looks fall-off-the-bones gooood! I can’t tell if that’s grilled because of all the sauce, but it looks like is. I hope it is!
There’s lots of other things on the menu that look like it’s worth a try, so if we’re in that area again, we’ll stop by again for sure.
The place itself is similar to many other plate lunch stands in the area, occupying the ground floor of an apartment building in a mostly industrial area…
Across the corner of Rebublican and Kalihi Street where they’re located is Dyke’s Market…
I love that name. lol
Side Street Grill has a small dining area inside if you care to eat-in…
I don’t know. Perhaps we visited on one of their “off” days. Maybe was busy back at da’ hotel and they was burnt out, so they were just rushing the food out at this job.
As noted earlier, the guys running the joint are great, with a positive attitude, and I’m confident they know how to make really great food, as is evident by what they put on the menu, and testament by that fantastic Pork Adobo. Supporting that, the experience from their “day job” over at Ihilani Resort.
We must be honest to say that most of our dishes needed some help. Of course flame GRILLING would be a good place to start!
Still, don’t let our lackluster thought on our particular plates put you off from going there. Check ’em out. The customer service (always important!), menu selection, prices and portions are fantastic. Hopefully the food will be too on your next order.
Side Street Take-Out & Grill
1637 Republican street (off Kalihi street)
Honolulu, HI 96819
The Tasty Island rating:
(1) Average. (She Go)