It's the mochiko chicken, but who's counting?
It's the mochiko chicken, but who's counting?
Photo by the Elmo Monster

Eat This Now: Plate Lunch with Island Chicken at Da Luau

I'll take comfort food any way I can get it. A big, steaming bowl of pho bo vien from Pho Thanh Lich? Yes, please. A plate of fork-tender short ribs from Patril in Newport? Yeah, buddy. Now, something I've been salivating over for weeks: plate lunch with island chicken at Da Luau Hawaiian Grill.

It's carbs--typically rice and macaroni salad--with piles of protein. But this isn't the L&L/Aloha fare that always walks the line between mediocre and unimpressive. It's--like those annoying-ass commercials about newlyweds on cable remind us--the good stuff.

Try the smoky, thicker-cut kalbi ribs on a two item-plate, but don't skip the island chicken. The bird is soaked in shoyu, sugar and ginger, then coated in rice flour studded with scallions, with a bath in bubbling oil to bring it all together. The crunch sounds like an M-80; the succulent, steaming dark meat within the oblong nuggets is the reward for being brave enough to risk scorching your taste buds.

Cool your palate with the potato mac. On its best days, each scoop is a bounty of al dente elbows suspended in a velvety-smooth smash up of spuds and mayo. Carrot and celery are the only veggies of substance in the dish, and they're hints at that.  Health food? No way. Soul satisfying? No doubt.

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