Vegas may very well be the Ninth Island, but having a huge Hawaiian population hasn't translated into a diverse selection of island cuisine. Whether you hit a big chain like L&L Barbecue or our very own Aloha Kitchen, heaping lunch plates of fried shrimp, salty roasted pork and twin piles of macaroni salad and steamed white rice dominate these menus.
- Island Flavor
- 8090 S. Durango Drive, 876-2024
- Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
So if it's all the same, how can you tell who does it best? I'm going with Gary's pick: Island Flavor. Gary is a native Hawaiian, a traditional singer and musician, and he's involved in just about every Hawaiian event or festival around town. He sent me to a little storefront off the southwest 215, a casual restaurant that looks like it used to be a sushi bar, with reggae music and super-friendly service. Island Flavor has a nice fresh poke, raw ahi tuna mingling with shoyu and sesame; you can also get it on a fried poke salad. Portuguese bean soup is savory and satisfying, and there's also oxtail soup and saimin noodles topped with teriyaki beef, scrambled eggs and a pork won ton.
If you're still hungry, these plate lunches put others to shame: Tender opakapaka, Korean fried chicken, barbecued ribs or chicken katsu done loco moco-style pack much more flavor. The mac and rice are still here, but you won't have room for them. Refined? Not really. Tasty and satisfying? Beyond. Give it a shot. I'll tell Gary mahalo for you.