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.
1512 Gulick Ave
Honolulu, HI 96819
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