Back in the 808: Ethel’s Grill
I love hole-in-the-wall restaurants. There are plenty of great ones in Hawaii, you just need to know where to go. Ethel’s Grill is in an industrial area in Kalihi and you would probably drive by it unknowingly if you weren’t looking for it. They don’t have designated parking so we drove around and parked down the street. We made a point to go early (around 11:30 AM) to beat the lunch rush and I am sure glad we did. The dining room is tiny, maaaaybe it seats 20 people altogether. We grabbed the last two seats.
The dining area is quite frankly, a mess. There were boxes stacked in random places that we had to weave between to get to our table. Their menu is hand written with markers on pieces of paper and inserted in binder sleeves and specials are taped up randomly on the wall all over the place. It doesn’t get more local and homey than this! We sat at a table next to these signs which I found amusing. I love how there is no option to buy a size S t-shirt but they go up to 2X, 3X and 4X!
Each lunch order includes a side salad, rice, miso soup and a choice of fruit punch or iced tea. This was an amazing deal considering each lunch dish was only about seven or eight dollars. You also have the option to “sumo size” any meal for $2.50 although the regular potions are quite big already.
I ordered the Japanese hamburger steak. There are two types of hamburgers in Japan that differ based on the pronunciation of the word. One is a hamburger as we know it in America between two buns with ketchup and other fixings. The other is served with rice on the side and usually grated daikon radish and a sauce on top. Every restaurant has their own version. This one had grated daikon and daikon sprouts with a ponzu sauce over it.
The ahi tataki sashimi is fresh tuna that is lightly seared and served on a bed of bean sprouts. It is drizzled with some sesame oil and some of Ethel’s garlic shoyu sauce. All for 5 bucks! It was a steal and TM and I shared this starter. Just about every single table in the restaurant had an order of it.
TM went with the deep fried pork chops that came smothered in a sweet garlic sauce.
Ethel’s is a neat little find that I am glad we tried. Definitely go early if you can because there aren’t many tables and it looked like they filled up quickly.
232 Kalihi St. Honolulu, HI