Monday, June 6, 2011

Local Boyz Hawaiian Cafe

(Also read part 2 -- September 2011)

Local Boyz Hawaiian Cafe, located in Corvallis, Oregon, is a dive serving some classic local Hawaiian plate lunches. Their signature item is the sweet shoyu chicken, "chicken marinated in one of Roy's special sauces."

I went with a menehune (small) mixed plate. Of course, I went with the shoyu chicken, but I also added some Kalia's sweet ribs to the mix. The ribs are marinated in Kimo's Portuguese Style sauce. And of course, gotta go with the Hawaiian macaroni salad!

Kalia's Sweet ribs on the left, sweet shoyu chicken on the right, white rice underneath
Macaroni salad
When I walked in Local Boyz, the place was packed, mainly with students from nearby Oregon State University. There was a bit of a line when ordering, and I feel that's a good thing with such a restaurant-friendly location. The decor felt old-school and just bland, not overly happy at all. But seeing the customers happily eating their food significantly makes up for that.

I asked the woman taking my order if Local Boyz had a brown rice option. She apologetically said there was none. I did see that vegetables could be substituted for macaroni salad or rice, so Local Boyz does at least carry a healthier option. And Local Boyz also does a vegetarian plate: "Roy's Ono Veggies" ($5.50 for menehune size, $7.50 regular).

They have a house sauce, titled "Da Sauce." When tasting some, I got a nice teriyaki flavor. I got a bit of sweet (probably sugar) and salty balance; I also tasted some garlic in there, which was nice. You can add "Da Sauce" on your food for free, but if you want it on the side, be prepared to cough up another 25 cents per container. I'll put Da Sauce on my food then, thanks.

My food arrived pretty quickly, which can be a good and a bad thing. Would the quality suffer?

Ha, not this time! The pulled shoyu chicken was amazing and lived up to the hype. I got lots of bold flavors from Roy's special sauce. The chicken itself was moist and tender.

The sweet ribs were drop-dead awesome. The meat was tender and the Portuguese-Style sauce brought tons of flavor to the party. It really reminded me a lot of Korean kal-bi (or gal-bi) ribs. It had a marvelous char to it as well. Since I picked up the ribs and ate them with my hands, my fingers smelled like I had just been to a kickass BBQ.

I also appreciated Local Boyz keeping the mac salad in a separate container to stay cool. That allowed me to eat the mac salad in its natural state, with no other flavors interfering with the experience. Mac salad...yup, also damn good. Like Ohana Hawaiian Cafe, Local Boyz captured that peppery bite nicely. The ratio of mayonnaise and macaroni was good. I still prefer Ohana's mac salad because Ohana adds the carrot in there for a nice color, (slight) flavor, and texture difference.

The food got to me quick, but it was also fresh and delicious. The ribs were temperature-hot, the chicken and the rice were very warm, and the mac salad stayed cool. That is awesome, folks.

I had gone to Local Boyz on Memorial Day because I had a craving for local food -- and of course, they were closed. I'm so happy I made the drive down a few days later. These guys don't disappoint on the food or the flavors.

In the end, I can't give Local Boyz as high of a score on the rating (as Ohana Hawaiian Cafe) because they don't have as many menu options as Ohana and the decor was nowhere near as nice. I will say this, though, seeing at least 25-30 people in that small establishment at 11:15 in the morning (a mere 15 minutes after opening) is a testament to their positive reputation. That reputation is not just in Corvallis, but likely reaches Hawaii as well (face it, a lot of Hawaii guys and gals move to Oregon for college and will hit up Local Boyz for sure). Local Boyz is a place that should be a must-stop for anyone who wants some food from the Islands.

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