Gulick Delicatessen (Honolulu, HI)

Gulick Delicatessen
Hawaiian plate lunch diners serve all sorts of local staples that are islanders’ version of comfort food. They are believed to have originated in the sugar cane fields when workers used to take rice, leftovers and pickled vegetables for lunch. Eventually, food trucks began serving these lunches to the workers, a role that such trucks play today. Restaurants that serve this kind of food are generally called okazuya. There are many of them all over Hawaii. Gulick Delicatessen might sound like a place out of Brooklyn, but it is actually named after the street on which it’s located and the fact that everything is on display behind glass counters. It’s situated in a residential area (mostly apartments) and looks like it’s been serving customers for a long time. We walked here from Bishop Museum for lunch, about a half mile away (and then returned to Bishop to eat it, since Gulick is take-out only). Another branch opened up closer to Waikiki (1936 S King, next to Jimbo). If you’re a first-time customer, like we were, you will be overwhelmed by the number of choices.

Every imaginable treat is sold here: fried rice, tempura (both shrimp and vegetable), nishime, shoyu salmon, musubi (ume-filled or wrapped in nori or Spam or sprinkled with furikake), chicken katsu, shoyu chicken, fried chicken, kimpira gobo, kombu maki, teri burger patty, chicken long rice, namasu, pork long rice, chow fun, shoyu hot dogs, garlic eggplant with pork, corn beef hash patties, sliced omelet, cucumber salad–in other words, everything under the Hawaiian sun. You can order as little as you like or you can get combination plates. Plate lunches come with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and yakisoba.

We ordered the chicken katsu plate and ume furikake musubi. All for a little over $10.

No one should expect gourmet eating. The quality of the food is solid. The chicken katsu (☆☆½) was serviceable. Islanders prefer their batter thick, so this is what you get. The macaroni salad (☆☆) was average by any standard, with no discernible onion or vinegar taste. The yakisoba (☆☆½) was tasty enough, but strangely lacking in Worcestershire sauce flavor. I concluded that there are probably better things to get here. It would take a long time to try everything here.

For satisfying okazuya-type fare, it’s hard to beat Gulick’s and their selection. And it’s a sight cheaper than eating at the Bishop Museum cafe.

Chicken katsu, ume musubi

Chicken katsu, ume musubi

Gulick Delicatessen
1512 Gulick Ave
Honolulu, HI 96819


Bishop Museum (Honolulu, HI)

Since the strong winds continued to blow this morning, we decided to go back to the Bishop Museum, after finding out too late yesterday that it was closed.

Bishop is considered the finest museum of Hawaiian arts, culture, history and anthropology in the world. The Hawaiian Hall itself is worthy of a visit all by itself. But, there is also a stunning science center that explains the geology of the islands and other buildings that specialize in various aspects of Hawaiiana. The Sports Hall of Fame showcases Hawaii’s top athletes. The Kahili Room displays the Hawaiian royal staffs (called kahili) in all their feathery splendor, the finest collection anywhere.

There are frequent tours and demonstrations throughout the day. Volunteer docents explained to us about Hawaiian mythology and about the royal line. One extravagant artifact is the cloak worn by Kamehameha I made from the yellow feathers of 80,000 mamo birds, now sadly extinct. There was also an entertaining overview of lava, including the artificial creation of some in a fiery furnace right before our eyes. One display (Polynesian Hall) traces the three major groups of Polynesia.

The Hawaiian Hall is an impressive, three-story structure, open in the middle, that displays wonderful artifacts. Suspended from the ceiling is a life-sized model of a whale and an outrigger.

You can easily spend two days here if you’re so inclined.