On the cheap
Tax day has passed, and those who have just finished paying out of pocket -- very painful, I know, because I was one of them -- might suddenly be in need of a little budget trimming.
I know, I know, you can't give up the cell phone or Internet access or other modern "necessities," right? For many, the only thing they're willing to sacrifice is food. If it's any consolation, Americans eat too much anyway.
Here are a few places where, bored of fast-food 99-cent menus and supermarket roast chicken, you can eat well fairly cheaply. You might find yourself in areas you wouldn't normally visit, but keep it up and you might save up enough for your next IRS deadline.
Eastern Chinese Food Center: For $3.95, enjoy a comforting bowl of shrimp-and-pork wonton noodles in soup. A hefty "Five Stars Rice Plate" of roast duck, roast pork, char siu, roast chicken and a salted duck egg plus choi sum and rice is only $7. Order it for lunch and save half for dinner. One of the cheapest meals you can get is joong for $2.50, a combination of mochi rice, beans, salted egg yolk and pork, for complete protein and plenty of flavor. At 118 N. King St. Open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 536-4121.
Just Taco's: Food courts often lead to an abundance of cheap eats. One of the most varied destinations downtown is in the Remington College Building, where 3-Star Gourmet Restaurant ($6.25 for pan-sear-ed chicken with pesto sauce, $7.95 for New Orleans blackened ahi with avocado salsa) and Komala Curry House ($6.25 for a chicken and veggie curry combo) are also noteworthy. But Just Taco's has them beat with $2.50 tacos filled with a choice of pork, chicken, chicken mole, beef or shrimp, top-ped with fixings from a salsa bar. At 1111 Bishop St. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Call 545-2960.
King's Korean Bar-B-Q:
NADINE KAM / NKAM@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gas price hikes bring more diners to R&P's Cafe, where owner Preston Chun, left, serves up hearty $1.99 breakfasts, plus reasonably priced "local boy" plate lunches. With him is his food consultant John Ng, former chef-owner of Cavalier.
Plate lunches run an average of $5.95, with select miniplates of BBQ chicken, chicken katsu, meat jun and fish jun running $4.45. A mixed plate of kalbi, BBQ chicken and BBQ beef is a splurge at $8.50. Balance splurge days with a lighter selection of a ham, turkey, tuna or chicken salad wrap for $2.99 with your choice of ranch or Italian dressing. At 927 N. King St. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call 847-8883.
Kikuya: Travelers learn quickly that the best way to keep costs down at destination restaurants is to make lunch -- when costs are generally lower -- their main meal. The same applies at home, at a wide range of restaurants. Here, for instance, you'll pay $13.95 for a teishoku dinner of butterfish misoyaki, but butterfish with one other entree choice, vegetable tempura, miso soup, salad, tsukemono and rice will cost you just $7.95 at lunch. At 1315 N. King St. (behind Diner's). Open 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. daily. Call 841-7979.
Maui Tacos: My favorite cheap meal is a Maui Fish Taco. Get it with black beans. At a little less than $4, it starts small, but head to the salsa bar for a side of corn salad and toppings of cilantro, onions and jalapeños, and you've got a filling, nutritious and delicious meal. In Kailua and Mililani. Call 261-4155 or 623-9405, respectively.
Nico's Pier 38:
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
King Korean Bar-B-Q owner Young Kil Kang sells a kalbi and BBQ chicken plate for $7.50, and a variety of wraps for $2.99.
Yes, a lot of people can sell a $6.95 to $8.15 plate lunch these days, but how fresh and aesthetically pleasing will it be? Nico's seafood specialties satisfy on all levels at half the cost of similar fresh-catch and local specialties at larger family restaurants. Warning: Desserts of lemon bars, vanilla bread pudding and chocolate mousse cake packed to go by Sami C., a k a Samantha Choy, could be a diet and budget buster. At Pier 38, 1133 N. Nimitz Highway. Open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. Call 540-1377.
Pitapocket Café: Israeli-style Middle Eastern and vegetarian fare are served up at this mom-and-pop with the best falafel on the island. Falafel, vegetarian and souvlaki sandwiches big enough to feed two are $8. At 35 Kainehe St., Kailua. Open 11:30 to 2:30 Tuesdays to Saturdays, 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, and 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call 262-3777.
R&P's Cafe and Catering: $1.99 buys you a hungry construction worker's -- and there are a lot around these days -- breakfast of a hot dog with chili, two eggs any style and two scoops of rice. Or a bacon omelet with rice, served from 6 to 10:30 a.m. weekdays, and 7 to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. (Closing time is 2:30 p.m. weekdays and noon Saturdays.) Later in the day, try tender roast pork at $3.75 for a miniplate or $4.75 for a heaping full plate. Diners have the luxury of choosing between macaroni or tossed salad, and white or brown rice. Oh, cops eat here, too. At 933 N. King St. Call 842-1078.
Yummyland: This place might be known best for its Chinese pastries and other baked goods, but ramen and plate lunches also fill its menu. Regular plates range from $4.95 to $6.25, but miniplates with two scoops of rice and mac salad run $3.55 for mochiko, orange, lemon or oyster sauce chicken, to $4.95 for kalbi or seafood with vegetables. Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends. At 1336 N. School St. Call 845-9322.
No doubt there are dozens of equally good or better deals out there. If you know of any, drop me a line so we can help each other keep our rent and mortgages paid.