Hawaiian local food is a hybrid of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, US Military, and native cuisine. The plate lunch is building block of this cuisine, which generally consists of whatever main dish on top of rice with a side of mac salad. I believe you will never truly appreciate the humble mac salad until you've been to Hawaii.
Redneckhunter was an instant convert to loco moco, a dish so wrong it's right. Two beef patties, two fried eggs, smothered in mushroom gravy on top of white rice. And of course with mac salad. The one above from I Love Country Cafe was suberb - seasoned beef patties, rich gravy, eggs over easy, huge portion and the mac salad was awesome -- I think it was more of a combo mac/potato salad. There was none of that cloying overt mayonnaisey-ness to it.
We also made a stop to the classic drive-in L&L (which has a branch in NYC). There I got the wondrous innovation that is Spam musubi. Hawaii is the world's second largest consumer of the canned meat product (the first being Guam). Thank the US Military for that.
I for one also believe that salty meats are especially suited for poi, and have a theory that that's why Spam is so popular there, but more on poi later...
I wasn't aware that my saimin would also have a slice of Spam in it.... Saimin is a dish born of the cross-breeding of Japanese and Chinese ramen, Filipino pancit, and Portuguese meats. The key components are egg noodles in dashi (bonito broth), with nori, green onions or bok choy, and different types of meat including Portuguese sausage, char siu, lunch meat (Spam), or fish cake.
Redneckhunter tried L&L's loco moco -- not as good as Country Cafe, but they did offer it in a more manageable "mini" size.
I Love Country Cafe
Three locations: 451 Pi'ikoi, near Ala Moana Center, 596-8108; Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange, 423-6555; and I Love Country Express, Kahala Mall, 4211 Wai'alae Ave.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue