Hawaiian mixed plates or “plate lunches” are a must try if you want a taste of local Hawaiian food, so of course, I had to try it at least once while I was in Hawaii. Most plate lunches consist of two scoops of rice, a scoop of macaroni-potato salad, and two or three meat or veggie sides. Aloha Mixed Plate Beachside Grill (AMP) is a casual outdoor restaurant that serves up a variety of mixed plate options as well as other Hawaiian dishes. It’s located next door to Old Lahaina Lu’au, about a 5 minute drive from the Lahaina main strip. It’s a relatively busy place, so expect to wait a few minutes for a table if you’re going during the dinner rush. The entire dining area is outdoors and furnished with plastic patio furniture. It almost feels as if you’ve gone out for a casual meal in a friend’s backyard, rather than being in a restaurant. The front half of the restaurant is on a wooden deck, where you must sit if you want to drink alcohol. The back seating area is a concrete patio, and alcohol free. The property is right by the water so what’s great about the all-outdoor seating is that almost anywhere you sit you get a view of the ocean. We had the chance to check out their breakfast and their dinner.
What initially drew me to AMP was my desire to try their mixed plates, so our first experience at AMP was for dinner one evening. For pupu (appetizer) we shared the Coconut Prawns – 4 fried coconut-crusted Tiger prawns served with Maui Gold Pineapple chutney ($7.95.) The prawns tasted fresh and had a good crunch from the fried coconut crust. The sweet and spicy chutney added another dimension to the food which helped balanced out the flavours well.
For our main courses, I ordered the Aloha Mixed Plate (shoyu chicken, fresh fish and teriyaki beef – $11.95) and my boyfriend ordered the Beach Side Mixed Plate (grilled teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef and kalbi ribs – $12.95). All of their plates come with two scoops of white rice and one scoop of potato-macaroni salad, but you can sub them out for brown rice or salad. They also offer a variety of burgers, sandwiches, noodles and healthy choices.
I enjoyed my Aloha Mixed Plate. The fish was tender and moist, the beef tasted good but was a little salty for my taste. The shoyu chicken was tender and a nice subtle twist on the traditional Japanese teriyaki I’m used to (“Shoyu” is a marinade, similar to teriyaki, which is very popular in Hawaii.) The potato-mac salad was saltier than I was expecting, though I liked that it didn’t have too much mayo in it, which many places can go overboard on. My boyfriend said he enjoyed his Beach Side Mixed Plate, but agreed that the teriyaki beef was a little salty. The kalbi ribs were good, made just the way you would expect Korean beef short ribs to be. All in all I was quite happy with my meal, I’m glad I was finally able to try out a traditional Hawaiian “plate lunch.”
For breakfast, we sat in the non-alcohol back patio. We both ordered the Paniolo ($7.95) – two pieces of Hawaiian sweet bread French toast with two strips of bacon and two eggs, any style. I opted to switch out the bacon to try out their pineapple sausage links. We also ordered a side of fried rice ($3.95) to share.
The food arrived after a short wait, along with our coffee. The service was friendly, and there was always someone coming by to check that our coffees were topped up. They make their Hawaiian sweet bread fresh daily then cut it into inch-thick slices for their Paniolo.
In terms of taste and presentation, the Paniolo was a regular diner-style breakfast with a Hawaiian twist. What really sold me was the fried rice. If you’re the kind of person that cannot fathom eating “dinner” food at breakfast time, I urge you to bite the bullet and give it a try.
The AMP fried rice comes mixed with shredded pork, ham, char-siu (Chinese-style barbeque pork), sausage, and green onions. The rice was cooked perfectly and had just the right amount of salt with a little bit of sweet. If I had the chance to go back, I would happily order the fried rice as a meal (which they also have on the menu – AMP’s Fried Rice topped with two eggs – $8.95.)
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Aloha Mixed Plate Beachside Grill. I would recommend it to those looking for a casual meal that comes with a great view at bargain price.
Visit their website here: www.alohamixedplate.com