The Drive for Show, Good Food
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Camaraderie. A comfortable atmosphere. Good food. Ron Ige, owner of Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka, vividly remembers the inspiration for starting the eatery.
“We (my brothers and I) played golf all the time and we always went to the 19th Puka whenever we got done,” he says. “It was a place we could hang out, reflect on the day and enjoy different pupus. I thought it’d be great if we could build our own 19th Puka … that was my dream.”
Eight years ago, Ige’s dream became a reality when he opened Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka, located in Aiea. The business, though, was in the family for many years prior, according to Ige.
“My mom started our business in 1969 — Ige’s Lunchwagon, which expanded into Ige’s Catering Service,” he says. “We (my brothers and I) took over after she retired and made our own kitchens.”
Today, Ige’s Catering Service has several locations operated by the brothers, including kitchens in Mapunapuna, Halawa Valley and Aiea. Ron runs the Ige’s Lunchwagon & Catering location in Aiea, as well as the restaurant.
Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka is well known for its local flavor. “We came from a lunch-wagon background,” Ige explains. “That’s what we used to run — a lunchwagon or take-out window — so that’s why our menu features lunchwagon-style, local food.”
The eatery’s most popular dishes include Joal’s Teriyaki Flap Meat ($14.99) and Shoyu Pork ($13.99), the restaurant’s signature dish. Recently, the various salad entrees also have been popular among customers, Ige notes. Favorites include the Grilled Salmon Salad ($11.99) — romaine, iceberg and red lettuce topped with grilled Atlantic salmon, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and tossed with a House Oriental Vinaigrette and a lemon butter sauce — and the Ahi Tofu Salad ($11.99), featuring romaine, iceberg and red lettuce tossed with a House Oriental Vinaigrette and covered with watercress, red onions, celery, alfalfa sprouts, tofu and grilled ahi.
“People like to eat healthier now, so we made a bunch of salads (for our menu),” Ige says. “We just added a salad bar, too; we started that six to eight weeks ago.”
The mixed plate entrees at Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka continue to be popular as well. For these entrees, customers can choose any two items — including pork chops, flap meat and baby back ribs — which come with a choice of starch and a bowl of soup or the salad bar. The mixed plate entrees are also popular because of the discounts, according to Ige.
“Every Monday through Thursday, everything is 15 percent off — 15 percent off all our mixed plates and also the daily dinner specials,” he says. “The prices are 15 percent lower than on Fridays and Saturdays … we did it that way to get people to go out and eat. The average price per customer is $15.”
Besides its flavorful menu items, Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka is a popular destination for parties and fundraisers because of its large venue.
“We have a stage; we do live music,” Ige says. “We can accommodate up to 500 or 600 (people) for parties.”
With its variety of menu entrees and casual atmosphere, Ige’s Restaurant continues to be the true “19th Puka” filled with fun, good food and camaraderie that Ron envisioned.
“On Friday nights, we do something called ‘Flashback Friday’ that (features) all the bands from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and we have dancing,” Ige says, smiling. “We have an in-house magician (perform) every Tuesday, and every Monday, we have a free karaoke night. It really is a gathering place.”
Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka
- 98-761 Oihana Place
- Aiea, HI 96701
- (808) 486-3500
- Monday – Saturday
- 3 p.m. – Closing
- Monday – Saturday
- 5 p.m. – Closing
- Closed Sundays for private parties.