Chop Steak’s A Hole In One
Oftentimes, the best recipes are not the ones you have to look up in a cook book and slave over for hours, but rather those that are known by heart because they’re simple, home-style favorites that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Such is the case with chopped steak, commonly referred to as “chop steak,” a most beloved local dish whose comfort lies in its simplicity. With no exact recipe, per se, the popular stir-fry usually is made up of leftover meat and whatever vegetables you have on hand in the fridge. Flavors of shoyu, sugar, ginger and sometimes vinegar — all staples across the multi-ethnic cuisines that make up local food — make the dish taste like home.
Chop steak might not get as much buzz as its local-style counterparts — say, loco moco or teri beef — but it remains an island classic worth putting in the spotlight. And you’ll be pleased to know — and taste — that the following renditions are a cut above the rest.
TEE OFF WITH PLATE LUNCH
Comfort foods trigger nostalgia in us, which is one reason we always return to them.
I recently took a trip down memory lane at Newtown Driving Range, where I was remy dad in elementary and middle school. While reminiscing about how he would always help me improve my swing, I took the opportunity to revisit another fond childhood memory: going for plate lunch after a day on the course.
Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go far, as there is a delicious plate-lunch spot located at the driving range: Laverne’s Hawaiian & Local Style Food.
This locally owned and operated family business knows what’s up when it comes to Chop Steak ($9.50). Though casual, the dish is still full of delectable and high-quality ribeye meat sauteed with a classic mix of bell peppers, onion, carrots and celery.
What takes it over the edge, though, is the “secret sauce,” as manager John Paulo calls it, which is more savory than typical chop-steak sauces, but still shines with a touch of sweetness.
Laverne’s has been cooking up local faves at the driving range since the end of last year, but as Paulo explains, his family has had the business since 2000. These days, in addition to the Newtown location, you can find Laverne’s lunch wagon in Waikele, and the company also offers catering. And let me tell you, at Newtown, you don’t have to be a golfer to come on down and enjoy these ono plate lunches.
Laverne’s Hawaiian & Local Style Food
Newtown Driving Range
98-330 Kaahele St., Aiea
SWING INTO SOMETHING TASTY
When local folks and tourists alike are in search of an island-style meal in a dine-in setting, they head to iconic Wailana Coffee House at the entrance to Waikiki.
The long-standing family business has played an integral role in the local dining scene, having opened more than 45 years ago. Over the years, Wailana has been the site of “Hawaii Five-O” filming, for both the original and current TV series, and played host to local and international celebrities. Its menu, however, has not been affected by the glitz and glam — in fact, people continue to flock to Wailana because its food stays true to its down-home, diner roots.
Embrace the old-school feel of Wailana by ordering Chopped Steak Hawaiian ($14.95). The generously sized entree features tender beef cooked up with bean sprouts, celery, bell peppers and onions. As for the sweet-and-savory seasoning, “It’s a special sauce made with ginger and it has a teriyaki flavor,” explains server Juliet Acosta.
This dish also comes with your choice of home-style soup, salad bar or fruit cocktail, as well as a preferred starch (french fries, rice or whipped or baked potato).
Best of all, Wailana is open 24 hours a day (except Tuesday night when it closes temporarily), so you can get your local-food fix any time of day or night.
Wailana Coffee House
1860 Ala Moana Blvd., Waikiki