The interior continues the theme of tackiness with some tiki torches thrown in for good measure...
... with its best design feature being a palm tree and ocean painted on the back wall. But as Urbanspoon's highest rated and most popular restaurant in Melville (95% at time of writing), they are definitely proving that good food speaks for itself.
I knew very little about Hawaiian food before coming here other than pineapples thrown into Chicken Treat combos, so it was a real surprise to find its an odd fusion of largely Japanese and mainland American cuisines served in bento box-style sets that include a main, steamed rice, American-style macaroni salad and a tossed lettuce salad with your choice of sauce.
For mains Alissa and I went with the Maui Chicken Bites and the Katsu Chicken respectively, along with the Spicy Pele sauce. The Maui Chicken Bites were basically chicken karaage, and very good chicken karaage at that. Just the day before I'd had Arigataya's floury version of the dish, and this HAWAIIAN version was a better, crispier example. The non-Japanese Spicy Pele and Sweet Chilli gave the Maui Chicken a bit of a southern fried chicken quality, and it kind of tasted like a better version of a KFC wrap if it was served with rice instead of fries.
My plate was much the same as Alissa's except for the Chicken Katsu. Again, Pacific Rim Mix Plate did a better Katsu than the average food court Japanese with the chicken maintaining a fresh juiciness and the outer crumb being crispy and golden brown. The side of cold macaroni salad was particularly delicious, with a nice tangy mayo-style dressing that made us wish we could have had a bit more. While the rice and chicken had Japanese origins, the attitude of our meal was that of utterly American comfort food - it wasn't particularly sophisticated (and not particularly healthy), but I'll be damned if it wasn't addictively delicious. A few bites in Alissa looked up and said, 'I'm sad that this meal will have an end point as I could keep eating!'
I couldn't agree more.
The Verdict: Very Good
Sure, its not the best looking place in town and the food is not particularly sophisticated, but everyone needs a good comfort food joint like this for when the fried chicken cravings kick in and KFC is a bridge too far. At $12.90 a plate for our dishes and their most expensive meal combo being $16.90, Pacific Rim Mix Plate are excellent value too. Its not exactly food that I would travel long distances for, but if you're south of the river in the Melville area you've gotta come in to see why this restaurant is so justifiably popular. Since we're less than a 10 minute drive away its a no brainer; we'll have to come back for the Creamy Tarragon Fish, Huli Huli BBQ Spare Ribs and Tilapia with Sweet Wasabi in our near future.