When visiting Hawaii, you can’t miss out on trying the islands’ cuisine, as diverse as the people who live there. While many visitors head straight for the Hawaiian food like fresh ahi poke, some might overlook the humble plate lunch with its plain presentation. However, its ties to Hawaii’s history and culinary culture along with its delicious taste earn it a place on your must-try list.
The Origin of Plate Lunches
In the 1880s, Hawaii’s sugarcane plantation era was in full swing. Immigrants from all over Asia, including Japan, China, the Philippines, and Korea, came to work the fields. Inspired partly by Japanese bento, they brought lunch boxes filled with rice and meat to fuel their hard work. When eateries began to serve similar calorific meals, the food was put on disposable plates, which led to the name “plate lunch.” The main dishes drew from all of the immigrant cultures and mixed with Hawaiian food, which even resulted in some recipes unique to the islands, like chicken long rice.
Plate Lunches Today
Plate lunches today follow the same simple formula: a scoop or two of rice and a protein of your choice. Popular options include beef stew, pork adobo, and shoyu pork. Traditional Hawaiian foods like kalua pig and squid luau are available too. Most plate lunches will also come with a filling side of macaroni salad, though you might opt for tossed salad to balance the hearty flavors. You’ll receive a clamshell container piled high with comfort food—a no-frills presentation for flavors that can speak for themselves.
Get a taste for plate lunches at Laverne’s in Waipahu, HI. The family-owned and -operated restaurant has served up authentic local and Hawaiian food for over 20 years. Enjoy takeout from their food truck at the Waikele Shopping Center, or order catering for your next event by calling (808) 551-8214. Check out their menu online.