Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Island Grill Hawaiian Barbeque

(NOTE: I returned to this cart in October 2012. A much better experience, even though I'd still call it average overall.)

Island Grill Hawaiian Barbeque is a food cart located on SW 9th Ave. and SW Alder St. in Portland, Oregon. They serve their take on classic Hawaiian plate lunches, from loco mocos to shoyu chicken.

Pictures of their food on their food cart
I met a friend for lunch downtown. We're both from Hawaii, and my friend was pretty damn hungry. He decided to give Island Grill a try and ordered a mini shoyu chicken ($5). Mini plates come with one scoop of white rice and one scoop of macaroni salad.

Mini shoyu chicken with macaroni salad on the side
I did like how the macaroni salad came in its own container. It reminded me of Local Boyz in Corvallis, which did the same thing. The reason is to keep the hot items hot (rice and chicken) and the cool items cool (mac salad). My friend, the great guy that he is, allowed me to sample the food in the interest of science. And as it turned out, there was a good reason he let me sample the food -- for the wrong reasons.

First, the positives. The shoyu chicken was of the bone-in variety, giving the chicken itself more flavor than if it was a boneless cut of meat. The chicken did fall off the bone pretty nicely and had decent flavor. Local Boyz still wins for best shoyu chicken in Oregon, though. No contest there.

But then, the mac salad. My friend and I agreed it was atrocious. I for one thought it was the worst Hawaiian mac salad attempt I've ever eaten at a food establishment. The macaroni, which was already overcooked, was still room temperature to lukewarm. Mac salad of this nature must be cold. Why? Because then the mayonnaise in the mac salad doesn't thin out like this one did.

But the worst part of all: the mac salad looked plain and had no flavor. Absolutely bland. No peppery bite, no color from shredded carrots. A complete abomination. My friend said he would have given this mac salad a negative rating. If my rating scale had a negative number option, I'd be right along with him.

There is already another Hawaiian BBQ place in the same area: 808 Grinds. Yeah, 808 Grinds is a lot better (see my review on that one).

Island Grill gets at least some credit for the chicken, but that's really it. The mac salad will forever stay in my mind for all the wrong reasons.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, bad Mac Salad would ruin the whole meal for me! Bummer.

    My favorite is still Roxy's Island Grill in Tualatin, but I haven't tried 8o8 Grinds...yet!

    Thanks for the heads up!