web analytics

Kaka'ako Eats: Queen Street Cafe


Kiawe Steak plate, $6.00

While $6 is barely enough (if at all) to get you a glass of fine wine, or ala carte side dish such as a baked potato or dinner salad at the likes of Hy’s, Morton, Colony at the Hyatt or Ruth’s Chris, it is enough to pretty much get you all of the above, plus the main attraction at Queen Street Cafe. With some sacrifices of course, as we all know you get what you pay for, right? Of course that amount of pocket change isn’t going to get you the higest grade, prime dry-aged beef tenderloin or a glass of vintage Bordeaux. Yet the meal here should be just as satisfying, knowing you’ll still be $100-$200 ahead in available cash or credit when its all said and done.

The “$6 Steak Plate” is nothing new around this town, showing up everywhere from take-out kiosks in the parking lot at the neighborhood supermarket, to food courts in the mall (Windward Mall to be exact) to complete dine-in restaurants, such as is the case at Blazin’ Steaks over in Kalihi – a place I’ve covered here before.

Adding to the list of dine-in $6 steak plate establishments, we have here Queen Street Cafe. If you’re familiar with the $6 steak plates from Club Queen Bee just a few blocks down the street, then you’ll know exactly who and where I’m talking about, as the owners of that place have hung up their bartending hats and are now doing barbecue grinds full-time at this new establishment.

Queen Street Cafe is located on 885 Queen street, just several business buildings over Ewa-bound from American Savings Bank on the corner of Queen and Ward. When you see Wholesale Mattress Co., Queen Street Cafe is right next door…

They don’t have a permanent sign up yet, and their banner was down on my visit, yet the billows of smoke rising as the grillin’ gets done streetside makes them easy to find. One thing that will be appreciated over their former Club Queen Bee establishment is the availability of more parking.

As you see, their sign has yet to be put up. Upon entering during the lunchhour rush, their was a considerable line…

One look at the menu will partially explain what all the fuss is about here…

Yup. Just six buck$ for 1 or 2 choices, including a drink! Those are the choices that are ready to go. Then there’s the cooked-to-order menu…

After you receive your plate, you grab your choice of drink (1/plate) of either soda, juice or bottled water from this fridge…

I don’t know about you, but for me, a great steak just isn’t complete without a good sauce, and I couldn’t have been more happy to see that big bottle of my favorite brand – A1 – sitting on the counter awaiting me…

There’s also a variety of salad dressings for your tossed greens and other essentials, including small covered containers to keep everything nice and neat in case you’re going take-out.

If you decide to dine-in, there’s a decent amount of tables and chairs in a clean, comfortable setting, including entertainment provided by several flat screen TVs and even a MegaTouch video game system…

Surely the MegaTouch is something carried over from their Club Queen Bee days.

Speaking of Club Queen Bee, still greeting you at the front counter is the lovely Gwen and Tauny, the mother & daugther team running the place…


Queen Street Cafe owner Gwen and daughter Tauny

If the dining room tables inside are all taken inside (which it practically was on my visit by the time I left), there’s more outside in front..

I suppose from here you could take-in the lovely scenic view of mechanics repairing transmissions across the street at Kiyo’s…

Or out here you could enjoy the wafting smokey aroma of steak and chicken as it grills out front…


Grillin’ some chicken


Grillin’ some steaks

According to da’ grill mastah, these are top sirloin cuts.

A thing of beauty to weekend grill warriors like me…

Now here’s what sets Queen Street Cafe apart from those folks using gas burners to grill their steak: that would be wet chunks of chopped Kiawe that are added over charcoal…

yeah.

Now THAT is how you grill! Das’ flavah right de’ah. Not only are Queen Street Cafe’s steaks Kiawe-grilled, they’re also well-seasoned…

Looks like their “secret spice rub” has black peepper, garlic salt and paprika. That’s my guess.

OK, enough with the grilling tease already, I’m getting hungry just lookin’ at that, so let’s get to the plates we ordered.

Diner E wanted to try their Kim Chee Fried Rice, but because that was a cooked-to-order item and the place was crowded, I got him him “plan B” instead, which he decided to try their Meatloaf and Furikake Garlic Chicken combo plate…


Queen Street Cafe – Furikake Garlic Chicken and Meatloaf combo plate, $6.00

As you see, it also includes a drink, which for Diner E is his usual Diet Pepsi. Being the “plate lunch purist” of the bunch, he went for his usual side of 2 scoops white rice and 1 scoop mac’ sal. O’right!

Yours truly decided on the signature dish, the Kiawe Steak Plate…


Queen Street Cafe – Kiawe Steak plate, $6.00

I’m a steak and potatoes kinda’ guy, so naturally I opted for the garlic mash, and continuing to struggle maintaining my supermodel figure, chose the tossed greens… only to negate that effort by smothering it with fatty, cholesterol-ridden Thousand Island’s dressing. lol

Well how is it? My steak had a nice sear on it, with a slight smokeyness, but not as pronounced as I had expected given it’s grilled over wet Kiawe wood. Perhaps the batch I had was grilled when the Kiawe was already in burnt off. Still, you could tell it was at least charcoal grilled and not gas – a good thing. The seasoning flavor was also more subtle than I had expected after already seeing how heavily seasoned the dry rub appeared on it before they hit the grill. I actually had to sprinkle a little table salt on it to get more flavor out of it, which made it all good. Actually really ono! Quite tender too considering the doneness (medium-rare) and type of cut. Of course I’m not going to try and compare it with a prime Rib Eye from Colony at the Hyatt, but for just $6? I am one happy steak-eating diner!

Here you can see it’s perfectly done at just a bit over medium-rare…

The garlic mash was quite tasty as well. You could taste the garlic, yet it wasn’t overpowering. I’m guessing these were instant mash, and not one made from scratch, yet for what it’s worth, very good. Tasty. Thumbs up.

The toss as you see is basically cut Romaine Lettuce and that’s it. While for the price of admission I’m not expecting hearts of palms or Kamuela Tomatoes in the mix, some grated carrots in there would be nice. Still, at least its Romaine and not bargain-basement Iceberg, so props on that!

With flavor, quality, portions, and – most of all – value all factored in, I give my $6 Steak, Garlic Mash and Tossed Romaine Salad plate a solid 4-SPAM Musubi rating. Put some (or more) Hawaiian Salt in that steak rub, and this could easily garner a 5.

Now to Diner E’s Furikake Garlic Chicken and Meatloaf combo plate. Here’s a close-up of the chicken…


Furikake Garlic Chicken

Here you can see the chicken is very moist. The batter is very tasty, having a slightly sweet, quite garlicy hue to it. I’d say it’s Karaage style. Then they finish it by sprinkling Furikake on top. That’s my guess. I’d certainly order this on my next visit. This, along with the Kiawe steak as a combo plate would be a winnah. And I’m not really a chicken fan either, so there you go.

Let’s take a closer look at the Meatloaf…


Meatloaf with Cream of Mushroom Gravy

Upon waiting in line, I noticed they were selling plenty of the meatloaf and furikake garlic chicken entrees. When seeing them serving the meatloaf, I noticed this “white gravy” they were pouring on it. Upon ordering the plate myself, I asked Gwen what exactly that was, which she quickly said was Cream of Mushroom Soup. While theoretically that sounds fantastic, in practice I think a deep, thick brown gravy would better serve this dish. The cream of mushroom gravy as it stands was too thin for one, and also didn’t quite stand up enough to the savory meatloaf. The meatloaf was also a bit on the dry side. Not bad, but not as moist as we would have preferred. And because the cream of mushroom “gravy” was so thin, it didn’t help it out in adding more moisture, but only absorbed through and disappeared. Don’t get me wrong though. It was good meatloaf, and the cream of mushroom “gravy” works, but brown gravy would be better in our opinion. I’d like to try making a meatloaf smothered over with sauteed Hamakua Mushrooms in butter and some melted swiss cheese. I bet that would rock!

Diner E gave a seal of approval for the mac salad. Just how it should be: creamy, cool and most of all, SIMPLE. Nothing too busy, acidic or “mysterious” about it. Ono. Winnah.

All that said, Diner E gives his $6 Furikake Garlic Chicken and Meatloaf with white rice and mac salad combo plate a solid 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

If you’re wondering where Diner A’s plate is, he made what would be a regretful choice of opting out of our usual Pauhana Friday plate lunch excursions on this particular day, thinking he was still full from his late breakfast. After seeing what landed on the table for just $6 each and now hungry for lunch, he was quite bummed about the decision. It’s all good though, as we shared what we had on our generously-portioned plates with him.

Rewind back over a year ago, we visited Gwen, Tauny and gang when they were at their former Club Queen Bee location…

…this after hearing rave reviews from Diner E’s wife’s coworkers, which is initially how we heard of the place. Back then they were grillin’ on this rig…

Now they’re using the classic Weber kettle style grills. Back then their toss salad was made of iceberg lettuce, carrots and purple cabbage…

Back then the steak plate was $6, including the drink, and it still is today a year later.

Oh, I also must note while looking at the HEAPS of cut steak piled on this plate that Queen Street Cafe (or formerly Club Queen Bee) doesn’t weigh their steak. They just eyeball it. When you watch them serve your plate, it seems like they don’t hold the brakes; no scade, they jus’ choke ’em! Right on Gwen and Tauny!

Other items on the menu I’d like to try is the Tofu Salad with Salmon and the Poke Bowl. The Pork with Squash sounds ono too.

Finally for dessert (and great timing I might add!), one of our company clients brought us a variety of pies from Sunnyside Bakery in Wahiawa. To which I enjoyed a slice of chocolate cream…


Chocolate Cream Pie for dessert from Sunny Side Bakery in Wahiawa

Queen Street Cafe
885 Queen Street
Honolulu, Hawaii
Tel. 593-9305
Menu: See photos above

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

8 thoughts on “Kaka'ako Eats: Queen Street Cafe

  • December 14, 2008 at 4:42 pm
    Permalink

    Well what inside that count and that good food at good price. Many places forget what business is and it customers that make it. Charging a arm and a leg is not going make it. This place rock.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2008 at 6:17 am
    Permalink

    Wow, all that goodness for only $6. I don’t eat red meat a lot, but when I do, I love a good steak with garlic mashed potatoes, so this would be the place for me.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2008 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    great pictures….that steak looks delicious, and those are definitely good prices..wish i could find something like that out in so cali

    Reply
  • December 15, 2008 at 8:42 pm
    Permalink

    oh yes, that steak and garlic chicken looks supa ono and for only $6. these days a hearty tasty meal at a reasonable price is hard to come by. i might go try em this week!

    Reply
  • December 16, 2008 at 7:11 pm
    Permalink

    ilikegrind, let us know what you ordered and what you thought about it if you do make it there. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

    Sawyer, really? Cali’ hasn’t caught on to the $6 steak plate craze yet? I thought this thing would be nationwide by now! Being food in general is cheaper on the CONUS, there could just as well be perhaps a $5 or even $4 steak plate in your neck of the woods.

    Jenny, indeed. Steak and garlic mash is the winner combo. A fully-loaded baked potato with it ain’t too shabby either! I’d be willing to pay a couple bucks extra for that.

    Kelike, Gwen and Tauny (the owners running the front counter) are excellent at customer service. Very friendly, patient and accommodating, and generous with portions.

    Reply
  • December 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm
    Permalink

    I can’t believe you can get mixed plate for the same cost! I would get garlic chicken and pork and squash. Yum…

    Reply
  • December 17, 2008 at 8:56 pm
    Permalink

    Brah, I going fly from Vegas to Oahu so you can take me all these places! Sure beats my turkey sandwich.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: