Aloha Cafe – At Least This Greasy Spoon Is Cheap

25 Oct

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A longtime staple of the Little Tokyo community, the Aloha Cafe is your only opportunity to relive your Hawaiian plate lunch dreams in downtown (other than pricey Roy’s). Could their lunch combo waft island breezes into my life?

Aloha is in the Honda Plaza in Little Tokyo, where Sushi Gen rules. Whereas Sushi Gen attracts foodies from all over and the Francis Bakery attracts old ladies from hundreds of feet around, the crowd that Aloha attracts is harder to define. The space is like the scene of an episode of Restaurant Impossible. I’ve never had a colleague say to me, “you know what sounds good today? Hawaiian?” Yet somehow this place has been here for a long time.

My guess is that the only people that come here are locals who grew up on the homey (if your home was Waikiki) fare slung out of this kitchen. Anyways, I had heard they have a great deal for lunch, so I thought I’d check it out.

I wouldn’t say I’m a Hawaiian-food-fooddouche. I thought I loved the food when I was in Hawaii for a week, but I think that was just the reflected glow off my island vacation infatuation. I got back to the mainland and ate a few meals at Shakas in Monterey Park and got over it pretty quickly. That being said I was hoping for the best.

The takeout plate below was their Tuesday lunch special – teriyaki ribs, chow fun, rice, and macaroni salad. A classic plate lunch.

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I don’t want to throw Aloha under the bus, but the food was not good. The chow fun was OK, but it’s kind of hard to screw up fried noodles. Even so, the noodles weren’t great — too greasy and not very interesting in flavor. The macaroni was blah, but it’s macaroni salad. What else would you expect?

The ribs were just not good. Maybe I was expecting something else, something like the BBQ at the Park’s Finest. But the teriyaki was sweet and nothing else. They were overcooked a bit but still overly fatty and hard to eat.

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I didn’t dislike the meal enough to swear not to go again. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot. I’m just not eager to do so.

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