Monday, October 17, 2005

Waikiki Hawaiian Grill - Tustin

I've learned a great deal about Hawaiian food lately, thanks primarily to two akamai food bloggers Kirk and Reid. Their episodic quest for good Hawaiian grinds, in the island state itself, and in San Diego has provided a good primer for me to start on a quest of mine own here in the county of Orange.

My first grind-find (L&L does not count!) is a sleek joint in Tustin. Waikiki Hawaiian Grill, it's called. I spotted it while zooming by on Newport Blvd., behind a SoupPlantation, of all things.

The shop is designed for you to order your food and make a hasty exit. Everything seems to be packaged in those styrofoam to-go containers. As I understand it, this shouldn't be surprising considering the plate lunch is fast-food, island style. Need silverware? Go somewhere else brah!

But should someone decide to stay and eat, the restaurant is spotless and bright. The tables are shiny and slick, reminding me of a polished wooden surfboad. Canvasing one entire wall, there is an oversized photo mural of an island scene. In the air, an Israel Kamakawiwo'ole CD seems to be playing in a continuous loop. Gorgeous photos of the food are shown on a backlit marquee above the counter. The pictures are of their various combos items, with a scoop of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad and a mass of grilled meats.

Below the marquee, a tall, lanky white guy and a short, stout Asian dude take your order. Bo-da-dem friendly and attentive.

I order the Seafood Mix ($6.99), which consists of a few slabs of thin marinated dark meat chicken grilled over flames, two fried breaded pieces of fish, and three butterflied shrimp "rings". As with just about every meal they serve here, there's a generous heap of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad laced with tangy mayo.

How was it? Well as a Hawaiian would say "It was onolicious! It brok' da mout". In mainland-speak; it was delicious!

The chicken was deeply smoky and sweet. And eventhough it was good as it is, I could not resist slathering each bite with the teriyaki sauce they provide. This sauce, which has the viscosity of dark maple syrup made every square inch of that chicken shine.

The shrimp (which looked like it was doing a pirouette) and filets of fish, were deep-fried to a greaseless crunch and stood up to a vicious dunking in the pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce.

Ono grinds in Tustin, brah!*

*Sincere apologies to Kirk and Reid for my inane attempt at pidgin.

Waikiki Hawaiian Grill
13771 Newport Ave. #10
Tustin, CA 92780


At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmo - I think you get it! It is, semi-fast food. Is that only 1 scoopf of rice there? That would be a no-no, it's two scoops rice and one scoop mac - and go for at least 3 starches if possible! So how was the mac salad? Thanks for the mention; and keep practicing that pidgin, no telling when that'll come in handy! :o)If I still lived in the LA/OC area my blog could be basically all "Local Kine Stuff", there so much around nowadays!

At 9:39 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Seems like a whole bunch of these Hawaiian places are opening up all over. But it seems L&L is the only one so far in Irvine.


Oh man! I should've gotten two scoops of rice *AND* a scoop of mac?! I knew it I needed more rice...I finished the rice before the meat was gone. Oh well, at least the mac was tasty.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Reid said...

Hi Elmo,

That was funny! Glad you got to try a plate lunch out there in Tustin and it looks pretty good from over here.

Thanks a lot for the mention, but you know, nobody makes a plate lunch better than we do! =P

At 7:12 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I tried the L&L in Irvine about two years ago and while I remember thinking the food was fine, I had a bad reaction to something in it. Might have been an isolated incident, or attributable to my gastrointestinal sensitivity (because my girlfriend, who ate the same food, was fine), but I haven't been back since...


Amen to that! :)

At 10:46 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Hi Meg!

Well, seeing as you "Heart" bacon, that must be a good thing! Ha!

It truly was a lip-smacking sauce - that chicken was finger-lickin' after a proper dunking. Hmm...I think I'll have that for lunch again today.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

I lived in Hawaii for a while so started taking interest when a lot of these little Hawaiian places started cropping up. I might be getting the wrong things (I've been aching for a good loco moco since being back on da mainland but every place here uses beef patties loaded with filler and pretty soon I'm just going to resort to making my own loco moco with real meat) but so far I have been very disappointed overall. They don't even all seem to be in the same chain but they all offer pretty much exactly the same food served in exactly the same way and for some reason they all seem to be owned and run by Koreans. Nothing against Koreans but it's weird that they seem to be running all the new "Hawaiian" fast food places. If anyone's interested I can point out a bunch but it's not really worth it.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger BuddingCook said...

i've been here! :) i actually think this is one of the best hawaiian food places. i've been to about 3-4 other places. love the katsu chicken here and their fried wontons. yum

At 7:36 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


This one is also run by Koreans, but man do they have mad cooking skillz. Their loco moco is better than the one I had at Cafe 100 in Hilo (where it was supposedly invented). Their chicken katsu is out of this world too.


I agree about the chicken katsu -- IT IS THE BEST KATSU I'VE EVER HAD ANYWHERE!

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

oh yea and the daughter of the people running it... shes hot!.. how hot? well let's just say i eat there ALL the time, not only for the food, but for her...

and cuz im dating her. lol

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WARNING...DO NOT EAT THERE!!!! They served me "used" food!! As I waitied for my to go order, I saw the owner serve another guest and then at least 1 minute later she came running up to guest, swiped the plate from under his fork and told him it was the wrong one. She then closed the take out plate, put it in a plastic bag and tried to give it to me telling me that "oh, he no touch food"...Right, so you're telling me the guy just sat there and stared at the plate for a good 60 seconds and didn't touch a thing. So she goes in the back complaining in her native language and comes out a minute later with a "new" plate. So if you like food that has already been picked through by someone else...Dig in!


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