Gosh, I haven’t had a plate lunch for quite some time now, however I thought this subject was kinda’ interesting to share and worth some food for thought. Literally.
For you readers out there who may not know, a “Plate Lunch” is a popular comfort food dish here in Hawaii, being a culinary melting pot of sorts that evolved over the years going back to the sugar cane and pineapple plantation era, where the Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Filipino and Portuguese plantation workers – amongst others – had influence in the make-up of it.
A typical classic Hawaii Plate Lunch always includes 2 scoops rice, 1 scoop macaroni salad (a.k.a. “Mac’ Sal’) and a HEAPING HELPING of any given entree item, which is usually “meat-centric” involving one or in combination of the following: Hamburger Steak (a hamburger patty smothered with brown gravy), Beef Stew (tomato-based), Shoyu Chicken (or Pork), Teriyaki Beef, Roast Pork with Gravy, Chili Frank, Curry Stew, Fried Chicken, Mahi Mahi and Pork or Chicken Adobo. Just to name a few!
Often you’ll find a “Hawaiian Luau Plate” every “pauhana” (end of the work week) Friday at many plate lunch joints, which commonly includes Laulau, Chicken Long Rice, Kalua Pig and Lomi Salmon, served with either rice or poi (a very small portion of the latter, mind you).
Reason I bring the subject up of plate lunch prices both “then and now”, is that I happened to have dug up the original menu my sister Keanu eMailed me from her lunch wagon business that she owned and operated for about two years back in 1981 through ’83. That said wagon did business as “Hula Lunch Wagon”, which operated in various industrial locations, from Windward Community College to Elliot Street behind the Honolulu International Airport.
Are you ready for “Plate Lunch Prices Then”, circa 1982? Where here you go…
$2 + change for a plate lunch? INSANE! While I don’t smoke, even the price for cigarettes back then was crazy-cheap. 75 cents per pack? Gosh, I think that’s how much one single cig’ costs now!
Now here are the plate lunch prices at today’s 2012 market rate, courtesy of L&L “Hawaiian Barbeque” (Drive-In)…
Comparing local lunch grub prices in 1982 to 2012 (30 years later):
|Item||1982 Price||2012 Price|
|Hamburger Steak Plate Lunch||$2||$7.95|
|Chili Dog Plate Lunch||$1.75||$7.95|
|Hawaiian Plate Lunch||$2.75||$9.80|
|Cigarettes (1 pack)||$.75||$7.50|
That’s the average market price for those items both then and now here in Honolulu, give or take about a dollar, depending where and who.
Interestingly, the item least affected by inflation is the canned juice (Hawaiian Sun or Aloha brand), while the cigarette prices compared to then and now are just insane at a 1000% increase. That sure is an expensive habit nowadays!
Then again, the home I grew up in Kaneohe originally costed my parents $26,000 when it was new in 1968. Today’s market price for that same property is about $700,000.
Depending where and who certainly are factors, as to be fair, at today’s market prices, plate lunches from lunch wagons are usually about a dollar cheaper than brick ‘n mortar restaurants due to the lower overhead (no rent) and demographic. Especially in industrial areas such as Mapunapuna and Campbell Industrial Park; both of which are teaming with lunch wagons during the peak lunch time hours.
Now how about a plate lunch from a restaurant in Waikiki. And not some dive place, but in the upscale boutique-chic Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, with neighbors including the Apple Store and Ferrari. Well, check out the prices for a plate lunch from Kenny’s “Hawaiian Barbeque” (that’s real original, guys), located in Royal Hawaiian’s Food Court…
Surprisingly (or not), I seen several what looked like tourists from the mainland whacking them plates, mac salad ‘n all. lol
While we’re on Kenny’s, I also remember when Kenny’s Burger House was around in the “Kam Shopping Center in Kalee-heee” (remember that jingle?!!!). Where even as recent as the early 90’s, they sold these supah ono char-grilled Teriyaki Burgers for just 10 cents each. 10 of those for a $ buck and I was good! Kenny’s Burger House has since closed down, only to be replaced by a McDonald’s. Sigh. But Kenny’s Restaurant is still there!
Nowadays if I ever do get a plate lunch, in an effort to eat healthier, I always opt for brown rice and a tossed salad, with fish as my entree.
P.S. While we’re having a little fun with comparisons, at this morning’s KCC Farmers Market, I picked up both a bunch of regular green onions, as well as a bunch of its big, BIG, BIGGER brother, the Japanese Negi…
That AMAZING Ramen-Ya (shop) in Tokyo’s Ginza district I always so fondly reminisce here only used the white part at the base of the Negi stock, cut into really thin slivers right across the bias. So it looked like these miniature slivers of white round onion floating on the surface of the broth. Oh, that amazing broth. It was attention to detail such as this that set that ULTIMATE SHOYU RAMEN apart from any other I’ve ever since tried on this earth. I WILL return to that Ginza Ramen Shop. :-)