Forgive the plethora of egregious errors of the English language. It is what it is. LOL
Food is comfort. Food is nostalgia. Food can take us back to simpler times, and fond memories. There are restaurants or grocery stores for everyone that brings a sense of these things. One place for me that accomplishes this for me and is synonymous with home is Zippy’s. Now, Zippy’s is by far not the best restaurant in Hawaii, but it’s definitely unique to Hawaii and one of my go-to's for a solid meal. Zippy’s is our version of a Denny’s or Bob Evans. The difference though comes by way of the food quality and the types of dishes that they serve (and the fact that they also serve alcohol LOL). Zippy's specializes in the Hawai'i local food which is a multicultural mixed plate so to speak. One thing that they specialize in much like many restaurants in Hawai'i is the plate lunch. Although most people from Hawai'i would also associate Zippy's with their chili, that's for another day's topic.
The plate lunch is the most popular and common form of food consumption in Hawai'i. Plate lunches are as common in Hawai'i as hot dogs and cheese burgers are to the rest of the U.S. Born out of adaptation to the Japanese bento, the basics of the plate lunch typically consist of some sort of starch (usually rice but not always,1-2 big scoops), 1-2 side dishes (the most common being macaroni salad, which has to be at least the size of one of the scoops of rice), and then of course the main dish which consists of some sort of protein upheld and protected by a layer of cabbage that virtually no one eats and goes straight way into the rubbish. (Enjoy the run-on sentence... LOL.) Also just to be clear, if you're going for a plate lunch it's not necessarily something that you'd want to eat if you are trying to lose weight. I'm sure you could make one to be that way, but then why would you want to eat it at that point? Based on the Zippy's menu portion above (for use as a generalized example) you can see some mini plates as low as 440 calories to as high as 2170 calories for a regular plate. When you're going for a plate lunch you're going for something delicious and filling (or at least you have a hope that you'll be filled). What better way to get that fill than to get nearly a whole days worth of calories in one sitting that doesn't just consist of a ton of crap food. Go on, I'll wait.
One dish that I absolutely love to get when going home is the teri-beef plate lunch. It's simple yet oh so tasty. It consists of thinly sliced beef (about to the consistency of what would be used to make carne asadas), marinated and cooked with teriyaki sauce. Since just about every local style restaurant in Hawai'i serves teri-beef generally speaking, it is one way that I tend to pick/choose/judge a restaurant's plate lunches. In fact in another upcoming blog I'll be doing a comparison of another restaurants attempt at the teri-beef plate (it's a stark contrast to say the least).
Since every restaurant operates with their own teriyaki recipes it's then a matter of comparison of the sauces and how tender the meat is. Is the sauce overly sweet? Salty? Sour? Is it too thin or too thick? Is the meat tender enough that I can bite into it without any issues or is it more akin to wet beef jerky? Do I need a knife to cut it? For Zippy's their teri-beef if is almost tender enough to cut with a fork, and I feel as though their teriyaki sauce is well balanced. The sweetness is not overpowering the saltiness and vice versa. The ginger and garlic are blended well within the scope of the flavors. There's no bitterness or sourness noted in it. The sauce also doesn't taste weak or watered down in any way. They're not trying to be hero's here, they are just simply delivering a well balanced consistent product. (Or maybe they are, I don't know, I don't own the place. LOL)
Another aspect for me personally judging whether or not a teri-beef plate is amazing is the side, which again commonly (but not always) tends to be mac salad. My personal rule of thumb for a good mac salad (or any side dish on a plate lunch) is that the scoop at the very least has to be half the size of the starch serving given. That is an absolute non-negotiable must! I've seen some very weak servings where they place it in small sauce cups which is an absolutely horrendous crime... or something. LOL
Some basics of mac salad is that generally it's made with the large elbow macaroni noodles, slivers of carrot, seasonings per the restaurant, and some sort of mayonnaise based. You can get fancy with adding other things to it, but personally the basics just do it for me. As far as Zippy's goes theirs doesn't have a strong mayonnaise taste, it's not overly tart, not too salty but a balanced creamy taste. I didn't feel like my face was swimming in a sea of mayo. If you like that sort of thing that's fine, I won't judge you... actually I will because that is gross. In the case of my Zippy's plate, the mac salad portion was just slightly larger than a scoop of rice (as noted above) which gives them bonus points in my book. Zippy's hit all of the aforementioned notes of flavor, which again is another well balanced product. One thing that I like to do is to take some of my teri-sauce and eat my mac salad with it. I know, it can be construed as one of those weird things like eating a Reese's cup in a weird way. Well, I do, and it tastes even better when I do (for both the mac salad and the Reeses cup)... but I digress.
On a side note, one of my favorite side dishes to get at Zippy's that I can't go without when dining there is their grilled corn bread. It has a light sweetness to them, with that grilled buttery crust. I always make sure to get some when I go to Zippy's. My only complaint is that there isn't more in each order. But I do get it though, because they would not make any money other wise because people like me would show up and eat them out of house and home on just the cornbread alone.
I think Zippy's could be a pretty decent standard on which to compare plate lunches because of their uniformity and consistency in delivery of their product. Do I think that there are better plate lunch places? Sure. If I'm being honest, I think that "Sunny Side Cafe" in Wahiawa across from the court house has a better teri-beef plate due to it having a darker, richer teriyaki sauce that absorbs better into the rice and side dishes. Also, if you've been to the Big Island, the "Big Island Grill" in Kailua-Kona has an absolutely amazing teri-beef. It blew my mind away. Now it's been over 10 years since I've been there, so it may suck now, but who knows and who cares because their teri-beef plate has left an indelible impression on me all these years later. Despite that, Zippy's teri-beef is still awesome in my book, and if you're needing a good solid family meal in a pinch, Zippy's is the place to go!