First, The History!
No self-respecting lunch counter in Hawaii would fail to give a nod to the revered Mixed Plate. This particular meal evolved from the plantation era when workers toiled long and hard in the sugar and pineapple fields carrying their energizing, calorie-laden lunch in bento boxes, baskets and tins with them. Eventually, the various cultures from around the world that had converged in Hawaii to work side by side in those fields began sharing the flavors and preparations of one another’s homelands.
Then, The Evolution
In time the mixed up plates, as they could more aptly be called, became the Hawaiian diet mainstay. Char-sui chicken, chow mein, chow funn, (Chinese), shoyu and teriyaki (Japanese), lomi-lomi salmon, laulau, and kalua pig (Hawaiian), adobe stew and ribs (Filipino), all found a place on the menu along with the famous and required “two scoop rice” and macaroni salad, included with everything from chili to spaghetti dinners.
Now, The Truth!
Available all over Hawaii from deli counter at grocery markets to walk-up windows at fast food joints, the place voted unanimously as the best location to try the cultural dining icon is Aloha Mixed Plate. Due to its revered locations just across from the Lahaina Cannery Mall, right next door to the Old Lahaina Luau and directly on the ocean under the shade of ancient trees, visitors and locals alike flock here for ocean views and dining at its relaxed best.
The Real Truth!
One major appeal of the mixed plate is that it fills you up and costs just a little. It seems construction workers and surfers to crave the high calorie content of the mixed plate but unless you’ve been biking up Haleakala, snorkeling Molokini or swimming the Paniola Channel, you may opt for something a bit lighter if you want to fit into your bikini tomorrow. Besides the calorie rich menu items Aloha also serves a tasty Asian chicken salad to take a bit of the carb out of the mix. For health nuts and vegetarians try a taro burger, a version of the meatless hamburger made from the famous Hawaiian root. To simply sample the mixed plate from the cultural immersion perspective, order Aloha’s mini plate option served with single scoop rice (sic).
The restaurant also offers a Keiki menu but before the kids rush into the same old grilled cheese and hotdogs suggest they try the favorite of local kids instead – chow funn. This is the island version of mac ‘n cheese — without the cheese. Egg noodles cooked in broth, mixed with a few vegetables (anything from onions to bean sprouts) combine to make a satisfyingly mild, salty flavor that kids and adults adore.
It’s little wonder people return time and again to indulge in the hearty local comfort food where a few bucks buys views that rival upscale establishments. With a demeanor that’s decidedly barefoot in the sand and low prices, it’s everything “Maui as a local” is about.
Aloha Mixed Plate
1285 Front St
Maui, Hawaii 96761