Thursday, September 17, 2009

Massively Missin'

The Aloha Bowl at Hungry Lion may be huge, but I have on occasion been able to finish it.    But if you want to talk about massive portions of really really good local food, there is only one name that should spring to mind.    Masu's Massive Plate Lunch.   Masu's was the quintessential place to grind super huge portions.   It stood on the corner of Liliha and Kuakini, with that big plate lunch sign above their parking lot that just beckoned you in as you were driving up Liliha.   Typically, it would take both me and my wife (then girlfriend) to finish just one plate.   But it was the like a shining beacon for firefighters, policemen, construction workers, the really big blahlah types who needed all of that sustenance to do their jobs.   I would watch these guys come in and pound a whole plate and still have room for desert. That was the type of honest, blue collar, local people that they tried to serve, and they did it very well.

Masu's was, if nothing else, pure Hawaiian.    You could tell you were in Hawaii when you walked into that place.   Walking in was always fun, because the line of mokes and titas would ususally go out the door into the parking lot.   If you were lucky enough to come on a day when it really wasn't too crowded, you could really enjoy the Hawaiian feel of the place.   It wasn't air conditioned, but the fans overhead were just cool enough to blow that warm Hawaiian air around.   The walls were just covered with pictures of local celebrities.   Everyone from Loyal Garner to Danny Kamekona was there.   When you finally sat down to eat, the music you would be listening to wouldn't be the really old stuff like Kui Lee, nor would it be the newer stuff like Kealii Reichel.   But it would be that sweet spot right in between, with the Beamers and C&K.   It was the Hawaii of yesteryear.   It was the Hawaii when our parents were real young and we were just small kids.   Just walking in made you feel that way.

When it came to what to order at Masu's, it was always the special of the day, inevitably named after some local luminary, like the "Perry & Price Mixed Plate", that would sell out long before noon.    You always had to grab the monthly menus, to plan to come when they would have the really great specials that included things like a 6oz steak, baby lobster tails, fried chicken, shrimp tempura, spam, hot dogs, all on one plate.    But what I always liked the best from them was their Aloha Weekend Special, that they would have every Friday.  If I remember it right, it consisted of:
  • Must've been 3 scoops of rice (if not 4).
  • Mac salad, which admittedly wasn't the best.  The macaroni was always too soft.
  • A cup of kalua pig, which really was the best.  It was smokey, flavorful, and very moist as it would soak in the juices in the cup.
  • A huge lau lau.   One of the largest lau lau I've ever seen.   And they always did it right.   It wasn't just pork belly and taro leaves, but had that small chunk of butterfish inside to give it flavor.
  • Baked spam.  We're not talking a thin 1/4" slice.  We're talking about a full inch thick brick, which was nicely glazed and browned on the sides so everything was caramelized and yummy.
  • 2 shoyu hot dogs.
  • and 3 pieces of charcol broiled teri-chicken.
It was huge.   It was fantastically yummy.   It was also only like $7.   You couldn't beat that.  When it came to Hawaiian food, Masu's was always on my very short list.

Sadly, Masu's has also faded into the same yesteryear of Hawaii history.  In fact, the whole building that they were in was sold to Finance Factors.   The family that owned the building also used to own and operate a barber shop across the parking lot.    What's really cool, is that the barber, Clara, used to cut my wife's Goong Goong's hair.   In fact, she used to cut my wife's dad's hair, and her brother's hair too.    So when our first son was born, and was ready for his very first haircut, who else but Clara could do the job.   After cutting 4 generations of my wife's family's hair, I think she deserves a break.  However I will say that Clara, and Masu's are definitely missed.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine said one time while he was waiting in line at Masu's, an entire "convoy" of cockaroaches went crawling across the service counter. lol

    They say the most popular places to eat (busiest) have some of the filthiest kitchens. As long as I don't see it for myself when I'm eating there, then I don't care. As long as the food tastes good!