Hawaiian Time, Authentic Hawaiian Plate Lunches

The Hawaiian plate lunch chain, Hawaiian Time, has just opened a new restaurant in Salem, on Mission St, a short distance west of the Salem Airport.  It is in the newer development which also holds Sandwich Express and Muchas Gracias, among others.

It appears to be an order at the counter restaurant, with a large dining area where you can take your carry-out container, sit, eat and enjoy refillable sodas. The menu has a few options for "authentic" Hawaiian plate lunches, as well as sandwiches (for those who prefer bread instead of rice), a salad, and some vegetarian meals.  Overall, the meals are mostly teriyaki, with slight variations of heat or meat.

Their space is nice and open, though when a crowd comes in it tends to hover around the cashier/menu area.  Hawaiian art and decor is stylishly placed around the restaurant.  I appreciated the way they display their plate size options by placing the three carry-out container sizes near the cashier.  The sizes are Dakine (small), Regular, and Alii (large).  It would help to put this distinction on their menus too, as the cashier area was obscured by the hovering crowd most of the time.  (Not a complaint, just a tip to help us new Hawaiian plate lunch enthusiasts.)

 I ordered the Dakine sized Kekoa's Special (beef), and my boyfriend ordered the Mauna Loa Chicken, sized regular. The food is pretty yummy.  The Kekoa beef went well with the rice and macaroni.  To get the full effect I think it's best to just eat all the sides with the meat together in each bite.  The macaroni salad on its own isn't anything special, but mixed with the teriyaki and rice, it was pretty tasty. The Mauna Loa Chicken could have been spicier, as it is labeled the "lava sauce".  But if you eat in, there is Sriracha sauce to add heat to your meal as needed, along with bottles of soy and teriyaki sauces.

A few last notes...I saw a drive up window in the back, so I believe you can pick up your food instead of walking in. I also saw tee-shirts for purchase. Most importantly, there are no plates.  I was confused at first because the travel channel has shown authentic Hawaiian Plate Lunches on a show or two and they came heaped on large white plates. But the carry-out containers work fine.

Hawaiian Time Restaurant
Mission St & 23rd, Salem OR
(Look for 2 additional locations to open soon in south Salem and west Salem.)
(503) 689-1340
Sun.–Thurs. 11 AM – 9 PM
Fri.–Sat. 11 AM – 10 PM
Facebook Website


Salem Man said...

This place is going to be really popular. I have been eating at their Eugene restaurants for a couple of years. It's quick, good and reasonably priced.

jeff said...

Been there twice now, enjoyed it both times. Brings back good memories.

gstatty said...

I used to go to Hawaiian time when I was in college in Eugene and it was the best Hawaiian food you could get there. This place is not as good as Local Boyz in Corvallis, but I grew up eating their food and I might just be a bit biased. I am super happy there is some good Hawaiian food in the salem area now. The over-abundance of teriyaki places made me bored with teriyaki, but Hawaiian teriyaki is awesome because of the mac salad on the side and the different variations offered from traditional Japanese teriyaki. I was about to go to Popeye's and get some jambalaya, but when I saw Hawaiian time I was like 'yessssss!' I stopped in, spoke with a super friendly employee at the register who asked me if I'd eaten their food before and was familiar with the menu, I responded 'yup,' ordered some steak, rice and mac salad and was on my way. Their food is pretty good I will definitely be back there again and again.

Amecameca said...

Thanks for warning me that the don't have plates and force you to eat out of polystyrene foam containers. Yuck! California is about to ban these and for good reasons. They don't biodegrade, they end up in rivers, and animals eat them by mistake. If these folks want their business to thrive they will get a clue and buy some plates (even paper plates would be an improvement).

Amber said...

Amecameca, finally, something we both agree on! ;-) Drives me crazy to see places serving on/in any kind of styrofoam. It's so bad for the environment and such a waste! I always get happy when I see restaurants using more responsible forms of takeout containers. And for dine in, yes, even paper is preferable.

As for finally having a Hawaiian plate lunch in town and some variety in West Salem, I'm excited. Nice to see so much variety happening in Salem!

Anonymous said...

Went there today after seeing the eatsalem post and the togo boxes were definitely not Styrofoam. They were some sort of biodegradable box, but I had never seen one like it before. Anyways- the chicken meal with mac salad and rice was good, but we were not too crazy about the kahlua pork. I'm sure there are lots of other good items there, and we will figure out our faves. Agreed, it is nice they opened here. :)

Lise M said...

Ya, the containers are #5 recyclable plastic. They hold up better than Styrofoam when you eat, and you can recycle them, but still not as awesome as biodegradable.

Jia said...

I just went and I was a little disappointed. I was really hoping that it would compare to Local Boyz in Corvallis. It didn't quite measure up. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't terribly impressive either. I think you can definitely get better food at that price point. I have no great desire to go back.

Jeremy said...

I tried this last week and it was good. I was a little disappointed with the Mac salad though. I've been eating at Wild Pineapple for the past year. They're over off of 13th in Salem. They have amazing Mac salad.

Nicole said...

I love hawaiian time! good amount of food for a reasonable price.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend started going there when it first opened and have been there a half dozen times. Unfortunately each time we've gone the portion size has gotten smaller and smaller making it no longer a good deal. I was pretty frustrated the last time we went because it was a very small portion size for the same price we normally pay. If this continues we will no longer eat there.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if it is locally owned?

Chuck Bradley said...

Anon, I know it's Oregon owned. Not sure if it's locally owned thought. I rather think not.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what you can do with Google today--they're from Eugene:


Ben S said...

I went to the new location in West Salem to try something different and was rather disappointed. Perhaps my choice in the Kahlua pig dish was just a poor decision I made, however if you are a restaurant that only serves 10 dishes or so they should all be at least appetizing.

For $8 plus $1 tip I got three mounds of white rice with some sprinkles of shredded pork on top and a serving of what they consider ‘macaroni salad’. I ordered this to go so it came with two containers of teriyaki sauce which added some flavor to the dish.

The pork did not last long and it tasted good with the rice, but hardly worth the $9 I paid. After the pork was gone I was left with mountains of rice and a pile of macaroni salad. I am convinced that the ‘macaroni salad’ was just macaroni noodles and mayonnaise, very bland and tasteless.

After having eaten what I could, I was still hungry and upset. I could have gotten more food for less price at subway. I don’t have any strong urges to go back and will not be recommending this place to anyone.

Jia said...


I agree with you. That was my experience when I went as well. There is an amazing place in Corvallis called Local Boyz, you should go if you ever get the chance. They do it right there. The flavors are all fantastic and they give you a hearty serving.

When I went here I also had a ton of extra rice, and the meat was seasoned in a way that really didn't suit my taste.

I guess you win some and you lose some.

Chuck Bradley said...

Boy! Ben S. nailed these places down!

I've been to both locations.

On my first visit to the 23rd ST store, I gave the hidden Rice filler deception the benefit of the doubt assuming that some newbie just hadn't got the serving proportions figured out yet. I find that this sneaky (but transparent) little trick is standard operating procedure.

The Wild Pineapple is getting my Hawaiian bucks in the future!

Anonymous said...

We live in West Salem, and wanted to wait till the "newness" had worn off. We have never eaten any "Hawaiian BBQ". So, this was new to us.

First of all, they were not busy when we walked in. There was three tables taken by diners. No one in line. The guy with the baseball hat on behind the counter greeted us, and we told him we needed a moment or two to look at the menu. There were no definitions for the Hawaiian words on the menu, in the store, or on the menu. The guy behind the counter didn't offer any advice either.

Since we came to taste their BBQ, we ordered the "two meat" plates. Chicken and Pork. For our drinks we wanted a Hawaiian punch, but the machine was not keeping the cans cool,(we were told it was not working) so we got ice from the pop machine to chill our beverages. It had very little "PUNCH".

On the way to finding our table, we figured out we needed to get our own forks,knives and nakins. (Mr. Baseball cap didn't bother to tell us.) The utensils were small plastic ones that were dumped in a bin. Not very sanitary this time of year. You couldn't just touch the one you picked up...they were all loose. YUCK!!!

After a few minutes are meals were delivered, in some type of plastic coated paper containers, with three compartments. We had macaroni salad, rice and rice with the meats on top. The macaroni was bland, and the mayonaise dressing was GREASY. No egg, no onion, no taste! The rice was good, white rice, nothing added. But way too much, and the compartment with the meat had been padded with rice. Lots of white rice with a small amount of meat on top! The pork was nice. Small chunks of pork that were tender and sweet. Pretty good, but we didn't get much of it. The chicken was another story...it was like getting three day old leftovers! A very small amount and it was in little pieces and most of it was like matted hair. I have never had
"matted" chicken like that before! And hope not to ever have it again.

We also noted that for not being busy, and no one ahead of us, our meal was luke warm to cool. This is not tasty, and NOT SAFE.

For $8.95 a plate, plus the cost of the punch, this was not a great deal. We had to listen to a loud pop machine turn on and off, and a kitchen radio. Nothing said "Hawaii" about this place. It's too bad. Neat idea, but whoever is running this place has very little imagination or good taste.

This was a HUGE dissapointment. We will be amazed if the West Salem store stays open.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of "Hawaiian BBQ", Anonymous. While living in the Bay Area I must have tried a dozen different places, nearly all on the recommendation of someone who insisted "this is the real deal, better than the rest." Meh. In my opinion Hawaiian BBQ is great if you love large portions of bland, starchy food, cheap cuts of meat, and mayonnaise, but not if you are looking for something interesting or flavorful.

Anonymous said...

If you get a chance, try the Hawaiian Time Cafe up in Vancouver, Wa. They have a REAL Hawaiian menu with saimin, katsu etc. Apparently they sold the franchise/licensee territory for Oregon and stuck with their one restaurant.

Also try L&L Hawaiian Barbecue...I used to walk by their tiny Liliha St. drive-in in the 1960's. They have a store in Portland....REAL Hawaiian food...Same with Love-Love Teriyaki and Best Teriyaki.

Hawaiian Time is "Hawaiian" in name only. I guess they have an attractive enough logo, but that's not worth $9.00. For that, they could at least give some veggies.

Lise M said...

I've been here a few times since I reviewed it and was surprised to see my portions get smaller as someone else mentioned above. After the first time I got a craving for it when I would pass by, but since the last time with the small portion and even smaller portion of meat I haven't had a craving. Weird how that works. Miss my Hodgepodge in Eugene.

chowmeine1 said...

I went here, but ended up not eating here, reason being that I parked on the side where all the other businesses, Carl's Jr., etc are. I went to the door and found it locked. People inside motioned to me that I needed to "go around" to the other side of the building. There was NO sign on the door to tell anyone that. People were staring at me and I felt like a big dummy. I was on a limited lunch break so I just went to Popeye's. What was that all about with the darn locked door?

Anonymous said...

To call their food "authentic Hawaiian" is a joke. I asked my Hawaiian friends what they thought of the Hawaiian Time food and they laughed hysterically. The firs time I tried this place I tried the Kalua pork. It tasted nothing like any Kalua pork I have had in the past. It was nasty--nothing but over-boiled and I mean boiled tasteless blah pork. I couldn't even detect any salt flavor in it. The "Macaroni Salad" is even nastier. It literally is nothing but white pasta, mayo and pepper. It is so thick with mayonnaise it literally made me sick. One other time I tried a supposed "steak" and veggies entrée and the steak looked nothing like the sirloin chunks pictured in the menu. What I got was obviously "processed/full of fillers" type of beef, similar to the junk the cheap teriyaki chains use. They try to fill you up on the white rice and the nasty macaroni salad. T fact that they serve everything in those tacky plastic to-go containers is annoying. The miniscule meat portions are a joke. I've tried the place twice and will never go back again.

Anonymous said...

amber and amereca? sorry i know spelling is way off. The boxes are not Styrofoam they are recyclable boxes and we have bio plates. Also we just upgraded to biodegradable cups and have ordered boxes.