-Grubbing in Chicago
Where fans of the Aloha State eat.
I saved Aloha Eats in LP for my final post of 2008. Were goin out with a bang and ringing in the new year with a keeper! Lincoln Park is not great but by no means the worst (see: Bucktown) when it comes to good eat neighborhoods. This is for several reasons and one of them is its the home to Aloha Eats, Chicago's only real Hawaiian lunch place. I've never been to Hawaii but it's only a matter of time. It was a few years back when Aloha opened that I realized how much I love Hawaiian food. Its not all fresh fish and sushi (which I also love) and spam on the islands. Aloha Eats does a great job repping this food culture here in Chicago. Its a place I go to in huge bunches, sometimes I'll eat here a few times in a week then not go for a couple weeks then go again and so on.
One of Lincoln Parks best eating options
When I say lunch up above I mean what the locals eat in Hawaii which is plate lunch. Its the signature Hawaiian food item and it consists of two scoops of white rice, a scoop of Hawaiian macaroni salad, cabbage and whatever your meats are, which there will be plenty of. Popular items include teriyaki chicken/beef, katsu chicken, Hawaiian BBQ chicken, beef short ribs, spam, Kahlua pork and many more. Including the almighty loco moco (more on this below). We are talking massive amounts of food here. Its no wonder the Samoans are so big and freakishly athletic and the hottest talent bed in college football these days. Hawaiian food is a classic fusion of Japanese/Chinese/Filipino/Portuguese/American and many more with local ingredients popular and native to the state added in. I always wanted to go to Hawaii but this site here will have gotten me to go. As I have become in love with Hawaiian food I've done alot of websearch and found this sick food site. That there is one of my favorites. Now onto the food at Aloha Eats.
I always start my order with Aloha Maid Natural Iced Tea (shipped from HA)
I think with the fact that the president is Hawaiian and he vacations there that the food has gotten even more popular on the mainland since his inauguration. As you can see HERE, Aloha has an open invitation to President Obama next time hes in his hometown. When it comes to a fusion of cuisines, well Hawaii is all over the place and its comes out so very good. The most well known food item in Hawaiian cuisine is the loco moco. The website "Whats cooking America" does a great job with regional treats and the history of them. So I will quote them below on its description on the loco moco, which is a favorite of mine. You can get a taste of Hawaii's signature food item at Aloha Eats. Also right below is a picture of Aloha's loco moco, the only one in Chicago.
aloha eats' loco moco plate is a luau in itself
^"The loco moco is Hawaii's original homemade fast food and can be found at just about any fast food joint, roadside diner, mom and pop restaurant or lunch wagon in the Islands. It is truly unique to Hawaii, and it is a comfort food, or "local grind," of the Hawaiian Islands. Local food is not the cuisine that is served in upscale hotels and restaurants of Hawaii. It's basic structure was established soon after World War II - the best fast food or mixture of cuisines from many Pacific rim countries, with a special Hawaiian twist.
Loco Moco is a mountainous meal consisting of a heap of white rice topped with a hamburger patty (2) and a Sunnyside-up egg (2), and then smothered in gravy. This dish is popular for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is a candidate for the Cholesterol Hall of Fame. As you eat, break the egg - then blend the burger, egg, rice, and gravy on your fork for each bite for a real taste of paradise.
There are many people who claim to have invented Loco Moco, but it is generally agreed that around 1949, either the Cafe 100 or the Lincoln Grill (both in Hilo, Hawaii) originated the first dish of Loco Moco. According to the story, the dish was created for teenagers who wanted something different from typical American sandwiches and less time-consuming than Asian food to eat for breakfast. The nickname of the first boy to eat this concoction was Loco ("crazy" in Portuguese and Hawaiian pidgin). Moco rhymed with loco and sounded great, so Loco Moco became the name of the dish." From: What's Cooking America. Good stuff, great description and I couldn't of said it any better.
-The Sammy's of Chi
Aloha Eats also has a pretty good fish sandwich that I order when the hankering for one comes. Since I ate fillet o' fish from McDonalds when I was a kid, I sometimes get the taste for a fishwich similar to it. While Aloha's is similar in that its a fried fish patty with cheese and tartar that's about where the similarities end. Its a mahi-mahi fried patty and rings in at a little over $3 with cheese. I'm a big fan and its the best fishwich in town.
Fish sandwich with fried shrimp shumai on the side
The burgers of Chi
Just another reason I love Aloha Eats is there above average burgers. Nothing too big here so they aren't really a meal in itself. They do up a fresh hand made patty a little larger than the fast food joints and put lettuce, tomato and onion on top with whatever else you want. Nothing special ingredient wise but the use of fresh meat and a price-tag of around $3 makes this a good well tasting burger in the area.
Da Kine m'aan, good burgers at Aloha
But then then there's the LocoT. Its a burger I had them do up at my requests one day when the thought of it seemed great. I wanted a loco moco burger. So I asked the sweet lady working to make me a cheeseburger with a fried egg and gravy as the toppings. Introducing the LocoT. Its not on the menu but they'll happily make one if you tell them what to do.
LocoT: Cheeseburger with fried egg and gravy (tell them the one on chibbqking)
There's really not much missing when it comes to Hawaiian local lunch favorites over at Aloha. Its great to see that an area like Lincoln Park has opened up to Aloha Eats and it seems to be doing really well. I'm never in there when the place is empty and its really popular with groups of college kids and other young people looking for a taste of home. In case your not dying of hunger and don't feel the need for one of their huge plates, everything is available as a mini plate as well. Except the mini plates aren't too tiny either. At just a little over $5 your going to get a bunch of food and there's a chance you wont finish a small plate upon your first sitting. Pictured below are some of my menu favorites but there's so much more going on over there including musubi, saimin noodle soup and most dishes available with their homemade curry sauce on the side. Oh and of course they got the spam dishes. I find it real hard to go wrong with the menu.
Killer Hawaiian BBQ beef
^It was in the 19th century when John Parker brought Mexican cowboys to Hawaii to teach the Hawaiians in cattle ranching. It wasn't long before it grew rapidly and beef became a part of the Hawaiian diet. The Parker ranch in Waimea on Hawaii's big island is one of Americas largest and most historic ranches in the country. A very popular beef dish is Hawaiian BBQ beef. Its basically tender thin slices of beef marinated in teriyaki and cooked to a nice crispy but tender texture. Its great stuff with the white rice and mac salad.
Chicken Katsu is real Hawaiian kau kau
^Here we have one of the many marks left on Hawaiian cuisine by other countries. Chicken katsu is Japanese fried chicken. Usually consisting of a cutlet breaded with a mixture of flour, beaten egg and panko bread crumbs its fried and then cut into bite size pieces. like everything else in Hawaii its served with rice and mac and also available with green Hawaiian curry sauce on top.It can be found in all the Hawaiian diners and fast food joints on the island and is also done with pork and duck.
Hawaiian BBQ chicken: In one word "ono"
^Hawaii also happens to have a BBQ culture including the fabulous luaus with Kalua pork roasting away. They also do alot of grilling and like to grill up some BBQ chicken. Teriyaki is again a popular choice for Hawaiian barbecued chicken as well as distinctly Hawaiian bbq sauces. Pictured above is Aloha's chicken which is also available with white meat but then it wouldn't be nearly as good or as close to authentic to what they eat in America's 50th state. It ranks much, much higher than 50 when it comes to the 50 US states regional cuisines however. Get over there and give it a try and if you went to Hawaii and loved the food then Aloha is for you.
Aloha Eats Hawaiian Grill
2534 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614