Monday, March 18, 2013

Hawaiian Style Grill

Hawaiian Style Grill has two locations: one on E Fourth Plain in Vancouver, Washington; and a newer second location on N Killingsworth in Portland, Oregon. The Portland spot opened next to Portland Community College last month (on February 13), and I stopped by the next day.

Portland location, second day of business (2/14/13)
The place was Thai Terra before HSG moved in
Having been born and raised in Hawaii, I need my local plate lunch fix every now and then. I stopped at the Portland location on its second day of business (Valentine's Day). It's the former Thai Terra spot, and the large neon sign was still affixed to the building at the time. A large poster hung on the inside of the glass mentioned Hawaiian Style Grill's existence.

Understandably, it was a simple layout when I entered the building. A few tables to sit at, each with a couple of squeeze bottles containing house-made sauces. One is teriyaki, the other is sweet chili.

The menu has the usual local favorites, from the Loco Moco to Kalua Pig. The Huli Huli chicken is the most popular, grilled boneless, skinless chicken marinated in that house-made teriyaki sauce.

Me? I want spicy food. The Mauna Loa chicken is the restaurant's signature dish, pieces of grilled boneless, skinless chicken covered in a spicy-sweet "lava" sauce. Options are mild, medium, hot, and "Super Hawaiian." The server said it's $1 more for the Super Hawaiian. She warned me that it's really spicy, but I pay no attention to such warnings anymore.

I ended up with a Mix Plate of the Mauna Loa chicken and Kalua Pig ($10.95 total after adding a buck for the Super Hawaiian sauce). Great job on the proteins. Delicious grilled chicken. Excellent kalua pig, juicy and generously salted (like it should be). The chicken and kalua pig rested on a bed of rice here. A few places in Hawaii may do that, but not all of them.

Description of the Mauna Loa Chicken
Kalua Pig and Mauna Loa Chicken Mix Plate
(Hawaiian Style Grill)
As always, the true test lies in the macaroni salad, and Hawaiian Style Grill's version passes with flying colors. Not too much mayo and a good amount of black pepper. The mac is again cooked around al dente or just past it, my personal preference. If you want, consider pouring some teriyaki sauce on the mac salad.

Closeup of  the Kalua Pig!
Mac salad!
You can get brown rice instead of white rice, and that costs 50 cents extra. If you're not a mac salad fan, you could try to ask for an "all rice" option, but since the menu expressly says "no substitutions," you'll probably get denied. Not sure, though.

So what is in this Super Hawaiian sauce? Looked like sweet chili sauce, perhaps mixed with sambal and some minced red Thai and habanero chiles. I believe the hardcore heatseekers will enjoy that Super Hawaiian option. It brings the heat without completely engulfing your mouth in flames. Yup, I could easily see a food challenge created here.

The regular plate lunches come with two scoops of rice and should be more than enough starch for most people. The "small kine" plates just get one scoop rice, while the "ali'i" plates get three scoops rice and probably an extra scoop of mac salad. Kanak attack waiting to happen.

Even though they open at lunchtime, I've also seen the breakfast classics like spam or Portuguese sausage with eggs, and rice. If you like fried food, try the chicken katsu or pork cutlet.

One of the workers there mentioned to me that I'd be seeing some new menu items only for the Portland spot in the coming weeks, including soups and new desserts. Being next to Portland Community College's Cascade Campus, I can see it being a great spot for business overall.

I enjoyed my lunch here and probably will also end up checking out the Vancouver spot in the future. 8.75/10

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