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.)
Sun.–Thurs. 11 AM – 9 PM
Fri.–Sat. 11 AM – 10 PM