A “Hole” Lotta Good Food, Open Seating
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Follow the signs that point to Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka for a casual Friday lunch any day, except Monday, when the eatery is closed. The spacious, relaxed dining room is perfect for a party of one — sit in peace and get your TV fix, you can even request a channel change — or a party of 100. For meetings or parties, call to reserve seats; there is even an option to have a buffet set up specifically for your group.
There is no table service during lunch, and, as owner Ron Ige says, the concept is like a lunch wagon with a dining room. “There’s no tips involved,” he confirms. “It’s run like a takeout window. The seating is all open seating.”
Order from the friendly staff at the counter, and while you relax in the carefree atmosphere (sports are often playing on big screen TVs), your food is carefully prepared with you in mind; it’s made to order, but comes out quickly. If you are in a big hurry, order from the Express Menu, which features tasty, ready-in-no-time items that rotate depending on the day. Items include Turkey a la King and Fresh Corned Beef Cabbage.
Ige visits the Honolulu fish auction and picks the fresh catch to feature on his menu, such as opah, and chef Reggie Ramos knows exactly what to do with it.
Currently, Ramos is seasoning the Opah ($11) with only salt and pepper, steaming it, then covering it in teriyaki oyster sauce and finishing it off with hot oil. The fish is placed on a bed of crunchy shredded cabbage, and topped with green onion and chopped cilantro. The shoyu-based sauce pairs well with the flaky white fish (so fresh there is no fishy taste whatsoever) and doesn’t overpower it, yet adds schools of flavor. The fresh herbs add a final hit of bright green taste. You get a choice of sides, but the brown rice and tossed salad combination ensures a delivery of whole-grain complex carbohydrates that will sustain you throughout your busy day and a portion of fresh greens.
Those interested in eating locally will rejoice in this bounty from our near seas that’s rich in protein and healthy fish oils.
Another protein-rich favorite is Teriyaki Flap Meat ($10), which is the most popular thing on the lunch menu, according to Ige.
“It’s soaked in our original family-recipe teriyaki sauce.”
The marinated flap meat is tender, but still has a hardy chew, and will have you humming “mmmm” when sinking your teeth into the sweet, gingery morsels of teriyaki. Pair it with white rice and potato mac salad for some extra scoops of plate-lunch comfort. The tangy, creaminess of the mac salad blends perfectly with the teriyaki. (But you knew that!)
If you’re craving a big refreshing, yet satisfying salad, aim for Barbeque Chicken Salad ($8.50). Ramos grills the chicken breast, then finishes it with his own western-style barbecue sauce that is tomato-based with a touch of sweetness rather than tang. The chicken is served in bite-size pieces over a bed of crisp romaine and iceberg lettuce, along with shredded carrots. The dressing option is up to you: choose from Caesar, Oriental or ranch. A light and fluffy fresh-baked roll accompanies the salad.
Add this restaurant to your weekly lunch rotation. Its location off the freeway is easy to access, parking is not a problem and it’s an easy in-and-out spot that offers high quality eats.
“It’s easy to get to, there’s open seating and it’s perfect for groups,” explains Ige. “It’s all up to you and what you prefer.”
Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka
98-761 Oihana Place, Aiea
Tuesday–Saturday, (Lunch) 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; (Dinner) 5 p.m.–close; (Happy Hour) 3–7 p.m.