This place is considered an iconic restaurant. Established in 1947, Forty Niner is associated with nisei (second-generation Japanese-Americans) who did not want to return to the plantation style of life and instead wanted to start their own businesses.
When you see the place, it looks every bit the old-school feel. I grew up minutes from this place, and the outside has not changed the entire time. Even the interior is practically the same.
They have two food trucks parked outside.
The menu here has many of the traditional menu items locals crave, such as saimin, garlic chicken, loco mocos, and bentos. The breakfast menu also includes omelets, pancakes, waffles, and French toast. I've been here for lunch previously but apparently never blogged about it.
Also look at the chalkboard when you walk in. There are limited-time specials there that may catch your eye.
Bottomless coffee here for $1.85. Nothing special flavor-wise, but it gets the job done. And coffee gainz for days.
I went with the Forty Niner Loco Moco ($12.95). This loco moco has their house-made hamburger patty AND some Molokai Pork Roast over rice, topped with gravy and two eggs cooked your way. As with just about any loco moco I get, I got over easy eggs. For $1.25 more, I asked for fried rice instead of regular rice.
Excellent hamburger patty here. No dense meat here, just a lightly formed patty seared on the outside and still juicy on the inside.
That roast pork, made with Molokai salt, is incredibly tender and flavorful. Basically kalua pig at its finest. Any fat left on the pork melts in your mouth.
The eggs were cooked perfectly, and although you'll pay a bit more for fried rice, I think it's worth it. Most people will probably be fine with regular white rice, though.
I also got a side of garlic chicken ($4.75), fried pieces of chicken with garlic sauce drizzle. The batter also has garlic sauce in it, so it's a very assertive sweet-savory garlic flavor. Crunchy chicken and delicious.
My mom got their classic small saimin ($5.50). Traditional saimin has noodles, green onion, kamaboko, charsiu, and some other toppings in a dashi broth. You may also see spam, eggs, and nori seaweed in other versions. The broth is the key here, and it's on point. Proper noodles. Definitely a great place to try saimin if you're in Hawaii.
Great service as usual, and you'll see why this place has been around for over 70 years. It might be an unassuming spot when you pass by it, but Forty Niner truly is an elite place to eat. 9.25/10