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Grindz of the Day: Rainbow Drive-In, ‘Nalo & More

It’s been a while since I stopped by Rainbow Drive-In for a bite, which I did last Tuesday. On which one of their specials for the day was Chopped Steak, one of my flavah faves! lol

One thing (among many) you have to hand to Rainbow’s, is they’re the epitome of what a local style plate lunch drive-in should be, and always has been, in every sense of the definition. It literally is a drive-in, where you park your car within several feet of the front counter. And the workers there all could be your auntie or cousin. Most importantly, da’ grindz at Rainbow’s are as local as it gets. And the place is always PACKED.  I bet if Rainbow Drive-In were to open multiple locations around the island, they’d do just as well as Zippy’s.

Brah, and spock dis’ out (check this out)… ‘day (they) still stay get da’ cardboard box wit’ da’ wax papah (paper) on top (on the) da’ plate inside, cuz! Truly classic! I really wish everyone would go back to doing this, as there’s so much nostalgia to it. While I think that box and wax paper just makes the food taste better in a psychological way, if you know what I mean.

And there it is, Rainbow Drive-In’s Chopped Steak plate, with the requisite two scoops rice and one scoop mac, packed to go in the classic cardboard box, all for a thrifty $7.95. Awesome sauce!

And how was it? Pretty good. Not the greatest Chopped Steak I ever had, but decent, especially while diggin’ the generous mixture of sliced tomato, celery and onions. It could have been a bit more marinated with Shoyu, while the Mac was still as usual for Rainbow’s, being too heavy on the Mayo’-to-Mac ratio, laddat (too “loose”). But overall, after a long day in the sun and surf at the beach nearby, she go!

Oh, in case you’re not aware of it, Rainbow Drive-In (Kapahulu Avenue, near the Honolulu Zoo) also has a “sister” restaurant next door (across 7-Eleven) that includes Shimazu Shave Ice (new!), the original KC Waffle Dog, Mike’s Huli Chicken and Poke Stop.

Next up, we’re back in Waimanalo, a.k.a. “God’s Country” (which it truly is!) at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack. Where you might notice they added a Tiger Shark on the roof. Which I suppose is apt, as I heard from a local diver in the area that Tigers are common to see, especially around Rabbit Island, where they’ll chase you if you have fish on your line (as a diver, that is).

First up from Ono’s out in ‘Nalo, is their signature steak plate, with some A1 Steak Sauce for dippinz’. Nice! And? Perfect. Choice-grade strip steak was seasoned and cooked to medium-rare tender perfection, and as good as a sub-$10 steak plate could ever be. Mac-Potato salad was also right on point.

Next up from Ono’s out in ‘Nalo, their Roast Pork plate, “almost” with “gravy all ovah”, but not quite, as it’s not covering the Potato-Mac’. And that brown gravy was stick-to-your-ribs KILLAHZ! The pork itself could have been a lil’ bit more tender, however, when in doubt? Dip ’em ‘dat killah’ rich and savory brown gravy and it’s all good!

Finally from Ono’s out in ‘Nalo, we have their signature Smoke Meat plate. And? Hmmm. It’s a bit more sweet this time, and not as smokey as previous takes I’ve had from them in the past. I’d almost go on to say it tasted more like lightly-smoked Teriyaki Pork. Which isn’t a a bad thing at all, however I think they need to go back to their original recipe. Too much sugar in the marinade for this batch. Still ono though!

I must also point out Ono’s Potato-Mac Salad, which is right on point. Absolutely one of the best of its kind you’ll find from any plate lunch joint. It’s kept simple, perfectly al dente with just the right amount of mayo’, and seasoned just right.

We move further on into Waimanalo, hanging a left at Shima’s Market, following that road until it reaches a fork, then hang a U-turn, where right from there is OK Poultry, formerly known as Kaneshiro Poultry. OK Poultry is a Japanese company who took over the farm as an investor, however the Kaneshiro family still runs the joint, including matriarch Carolyn Kaneshiro, who I had the pleasure to chat with on this most recent visit this past Thursday. She’s such a sweet lady, I love her! She didn’t want pictures of her, so sorry I couldn’t get that, however I did take photos of the new chicken coop they have out front….

OK Poultry (Kaneshiro Poultry) is currently working on expanding their production facility at this Waimanalo farm, where when I was there, they were pouring a new concrete foundation for a warehouse-like structure where that will be, just past the store in front.

This is the front of Kaneshiro Poultry’s Waimanalo valley store, d.b.a. OK Poultry.

Want fresh-as-can-get “TKG” eggs, hatched within one day of purchase? You got it! Get a tray of 30 large “TKG” eggs direct at the farm at OK Poultry in Waimanalo for just $8.25!

Waimanalo’s OK Poultry (Kaneshiro Poultry) “TKG” large eggs, tray of 30 for $8.25 (hatched within one day of purchase)

Tamago Kake Gohan (with Kawanaka Shoyu!)

Next up, above, we have Pinakbet from Don Quijote Kaheka’s Okazuya counter. Dude, if you want kick @ss Filipino food, look no further, as the middle-aged Filipino cook who makes the grindz here at Don Quijote’s Kaheka location knows how to cook some seriously awesome Filipino grindz! Just as good, if not better than Naty’s in Chinatown, or the former Mabuhay’s on River Street. Or Bautista’s. Or Elena’s. Where evahz! His Pork Guisantes, Adobo and Lechon also kicks @ss!

Next up, I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been having this mean craving for Pizza, where my favorite of the “Big 3” has always been none other than Pizza Hut. Specifically their pan crust. As for toppings? My go-to faves are usually Pepperoni, Olives, Mushrooms and Bell Peppers. However this last time I did try it with what I didn’t know they had until looking at the topping menu closer, are Meatballs?….

Gotta’ admit, it does a look a bit weird with meatballs on it. So how is it? Excellent! They’re very lightly seasoned with what might be thyme and/or parsley, and it definitely went well with the pepperoni, which I was concerned might clash.It’s basically like eating a “pizza-fied” spaghetti and meatballs, which we all love of course!

If there’s any improvement, I’d say the meatballs just needs to be more “crustified” and not so “microwaved” in texture, where they’re kind of mushy. Other than that, this is definitely a meaty topping I’ll be going for more often now on at ” The Hut”!

Next-up, speaking of toppings, my go-to “binge” lately has been a fully loaded baked potato. The WORKS, cuz. I start by “nuking” my potato, which I find turns out better than oven-baked, in a fraction of the time and energy. From there, I pretty much drown it with melted butter and EVOO, then I smother it with fresh-grated sharp cheddar, then nuke it for a few seconds just to slighly melt the cheese. Then I hit it with fresh crack salt and pepper. Then hit it with a GLOP of sour cream, making sure there’s enough to make my arteries quiver, and my ribs stuck like glue. lol Not stopping there, a whole herb garden’s worth of roughly chopped green onions, which I much prefer over Chives. Finally, on goes bacon bits, made with Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon that was also nuked to get it crispy, to the point where I can sprinkle it over the sour cream.

Dude, baked potato heaven, right there!

We’ll wrap-up this edition of “Grindz of the Day” on a fresh note, strolling around once again at my favorite Saturday morning event, the KCC Farmers Farmers Market. Above are a flawless selection of Gourmet Select Kamuela Tomatoes, all vine-ripened, greenhouse grown and Food Safety Certified. Kamuela Tomatoes can also be found at most supermarkets, as well as Costco. They’re a product of Kawamata Farms LLC, in Kamuela on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Next up, give a holla’ to all da’ Filipinos in da’ house, as we have Calamansi, selling for $1 per pound, which is about a big handful worth. Calamansi are very small — about the size of a “bambucha” marble — and taste like a very tart Tangerine. They’re often used as a flavoring condiment for Filipino dishes such as Pancit (noodles) and seafood, such as Pusit (squid). Calamansi are also excellent atop a bottle of Corona or your favorite brew of choice. Also great squeezed in 7-Up or Sprite. Basically anything that lemon or lime is good with, Calamansi is an excellent, more flavorful option.

While we’re Talkin’ Filipino, $1 per pound is an excellent price here for Green Cooking Papaya. Typically green papaya sells for over $3 per pound in the grocery stores.

As you know, Green Papaya is the key ingredient (next to Malunggay leaves) in Tinola (Chicken Papaya Soup), shown above. I LOVE Tinola! Green Papaya is actually sort of flavorless, with just a subtle hint of Papaya flavor. It’s pretty much essentially a “sponge”, with a tender, yet firm bite to it after it’s cooked briefly, that really absorbs the ginger-laced flavor of the chicken broth in Tinola, while the high concentration of Papain in it helps to further tenderize the chicken in the soup. Of course Green Papaya is VERY healthy for you.

Finally, we have Nasubi variety Avocado from Kona. I got to sample some, and WOW, it’s VERY “Avocado-ee” and creamy! Gives Hass some serious competition! Man, this would make some AWESOME Guac’, or topped on a burger!

Until next time, a hui hou!

~ Pomai

“Cromwell’s” on New Year’s Day

20 thoughts on “Grindz of the Day: Rainbow Drive-In, ‘Nalo & More

  • January 10, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I never used to be a Pizza Hut fan. Still I’m not in general. However their grilled cheese stuffed crust (with double mushroom topping) is so addictive, I could eat it once a week (but I don’t). If your Pizza Hut has it, you have to try it. I hate regular stuffed crust, but the grilled cheese is SO GOOD!

  • January 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Now we are talking with that Chopped Steak. I may have to try that next time I go to City Mill. The in store counter at Don Quijote is always a bit eccentric, but that is really good looking Pinakbet, much richer than usual and since they sell by the pound, a definite good addition to the fridge for back up. not many dishes are as healthy as Pinakbet.

  • January 10, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    @ pat – I knew that Chopped Steak plate would get your attention. Similar to that, you know what I need to try, is the Beef Tomato at the DQ Okazuya counter. They were selling that today (every day the dishes are different), however I already had something at home to eat. Next time I’ll get that. LOVE Beef Tomato! Sam Choy has an awesome Beef Tomato recipe. I’ve made it several times before and it’s PERFECT!

    @ h – Looking at the Pizza Hut Hawaii menu online, I don’t see a Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust. Just their Original Stuffed Crust. Apparently that’s something fairly new (limited time offer), that hasn’t made it here yet (if it ever will). I also just noticed Anchovies aren’t one of the toppings options anymore. I guess very low demand for salted fish on pizza.

    What I’d really love to try are McDonald’s Waffle-cut Fries!

    • January 11, 2017 at 2:37 am

      I hadn’t heard of McD’s waffle fries, but then I don’t pay any attention to their  potato products; they aren’t vegetarian in the US.

  • January 11, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Love the old school cardboard box.  Also loved the simple paper wrapped plates from Tsukenjo’s.  Like opening a present.

  • January 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    A pepperoni pizza is defined by the quality of the pepperoni sausage itself. I loved the pepperoni pizzas I used to get up to Maine and down to Washington, DC on the east coast and in mid-west from Virginia up to the Chicago area. The pepperoni was air dried hard sausage very spicy and when cooked would cup collecting all that great tasting rendered fat that had all the great taste from the curing process encased in it.
    When you get into the southern states and out west the spicy air dried pepperoni disappears and a more wet style rubbery mild pepperoni appears maybe because you can’t air dry due to hot weather. I have not found what I consider decent Italian pepperoni pizza in Hawaii over the last 10 years especially none of the franchise Americanized make believe Italian pizzerias like Pizza Hut.
    The state I come from had very large Italian and Greek populations so there were pizza houses on almost every street corner and you could pick and choose according to your taste preference.
    In Hawaii I make my own pizza using New York air dried Boars Head brand hard pepperoni in oven or on the bbq grill or pepperoni, lettuce, cheese and olive oil hot grinder sandwich under the broiler.      

    • January 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Sounds to me like you are ready to invent the Gotteberg Pizza. Gotteberg is very dry and cups up exactly like a summer (dry) sausage should.

      • January 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm


        Based on Ken’s description of that Pepperoni, I was going to suggest the same thing. A Goteborg Sausage Pizza would be very interesting! One thing: I find Goteborg tastes more like (a very salty) Salami than Pepperoni.

  • January 11, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    @ Ken – Surprised you didn’t put your “Sodium Cop” hat on and go after Pizza Hut’s nutritional facts. Looked it up, and one slice of a PH large pan crust Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza will hit you with 350 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and 730mg of sodium. Consider most folks can eat about 2 slices at a time. I can definitely feel my “blood boil” with all the sodium I taste in eating each PH slices.

    As for the authenticity of the Pepperoni itself, I could care less. PH tastes fine for my “non-connoisseur” pizza palate. I’m actually more of a Margherita style pizza fan, however only if the mozzarella and tomatoes are fresh-made and top notch, something you can’t get at PH.

    @ kobi – Toshi’s Delicatessen (Okazuya) still does the simple paper plate lined with wax paper, then wrapped in butcher’s paper, held together with a rubberband. Also classic!

    @ h – I didn’t now McD’s fries weren’t truly vegan until you mention it. Come to find out, their oil has a “natural beef flavoring” in it, which they claim lends to the signature taste of their fries.

    I thought it was because they use the same oil from deep frying other meat-based items such as Chicken McNuggets. Certain Jack in the Box locations here have that “issue”, where everything that’s deep-fried tastes kinda’ like their seasoned curly fries.

    • January 14, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Pomai, Boars Head air dried hard pepperoni 1 oz serving size is  130 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 570 mg of  sodium.

  • January 12, 2017 at 5:33 am


    The review of Rainbow Drive In made me instantly homesick, as did the KCC Farmers Market and Ono Steaks pics. I didn’t know McD’s is trying waffle fries… They’re certainly not advertising it here in Alabama. I think they’d have a hard time beating Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries. I think Chick-Fil-A would do well in Hawaii; They’re also the only fast food chain that offers regular and diet lemonade as a drink option. I wonder if Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s will ever get to Hawaii? They offer a lot of varieties of hamburgers and breakfast items, with limited offers of special items like pork chop and gravy biscuit, bbq brisket thickburger, they even had a bologna and velveeta biscuit a few years ago.

    • January 14, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      KeithF, There are two Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s located in Hawaii. One is located on Oahu at 2140 N Nimitz Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96819. I’ve lived in Honolulu for over 10 years now and its always been there so I really don’t know how long before that.

      The other is a Carl’s Jr. Green Burrito located on Maui at 15 Kapoli Street, Wailuku, HI 96793.

      Hope this helps!

      • January 23, 2017 at 5:18 am

        Thanks, Ken!  Been gone from Hawaii since 73 and only get back every couple of years ago. Didn’t notice them on my last trip two years ago, but will check them out this summer. Frankly, I am always more focused on getting my “local grindz” when I’m home!

  • January 12, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Oh, how I miss a boneless chicken plate from Rainbow.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  As for pizza, well, I am outside of Chicago.  Most people here are pizza snobs and laugh at Pizza Hut, but I still secretly enjoy some once in a while.  Shhh.

    We do have awesome pizza here and great Italian Beefs.  So good, Had one of the best ones the other day.  Italian Beef on Garlic Bread…soooo ono!

  • January 14, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Are all of their eggs free-range?

    • January 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm


      None of their chickens are free-range. All raised indoors in coops.

  • January 15, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Pomai, when I was little at greatgrandfather house a Chinese chicken farmer delivery fresh chicken and eggs.

    Chicken was big size and greatgrandfather like to make for me and siblings green onion chicken which

    always gone by everyone at dinner time.

  • January 15, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I’m with Keith F here, I’m stuck in Bama too and while we do have some killer regional eats here (Southern Plate Lunches are close cousins in heft if not content to ours), it’s just not the same as “Da Local Grindz” in the islands

    I turn my yearly trip back into an opportunity to EAT my weight in all the ONO grub and especially ultra fresh seafood I can’t get here (except when I take a 4 hour trip down to Pensacola to pick up fresh Ahi, Shrimp and Aku at Joe Patti’s)… MMMMMM Poke! I always liked the Shoyu Chicken and the Chili Dog plates with the works at Rainbows.

    I’ve read this site for years and it always makes me homesick and HUNGRY! :D Keep up the GREAT work!

    • January 23, 2017 at 5:24 am

      Haru, where you stay in Bama? I’m in Huntsville, and we got a pretty big Hawaii club here. Even get one Hawaiian Food Truck (Local J’s).  Look up Da Kine in Rocket City on Facebook; we having our next pot luck on 11 Feb.

  • January 25, 2017 at 3:51 am

    WAY South – Intersection of Highways 80 and 43 – MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! :D My wife’s from the Shoals though so next visit I’ll have to lookit up! I AM the Hawaiian club here! :D




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