A Rainbow of Flavors for the Local Palate

Digest Lite Bites

June 11, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

At the end of every rainbow there lies a pot of gold, and at Rainbow Drive-In in Kapahulu lies mouthwatering local grinds that both locals and tourists can’t resist. This iconic, local landmark was founded by Sejiu and Ayako Ifuku, and opened its doors in October 1961.

  • Henrieda Nerro
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Today the Ifuku’s son-in-law, Jim Gusukuma, serves as vice president for Rainbow Drive-In and says that while much time has passed the food has remained the same.

“We’re a nostalgic, iconic plate lunch place and one of the things we try to do is stick to the original recipes,” Gusukuma says. “We’ve added a few things to the menu over the years, but generally speaking, our menu is the original plate lunch menu that my father-in-law started.

“His philosophy was to give good food at a reasonable price, with quick service and that’s what we try to do.”

With varied local favorites gracing the menu, the Loco Moco Plate ($6.75), Chili Dog Plate ($6.20) and the Mixed Plate ($7.25) are indeed top sellers of the bunch.

“The Loco Moco Plate is extremely popular especially with the Japanese market,” Gusukuma explains, noting that Rainbow Drive-In was one of the first establishments in Honolulu to offer up this hearty dish, featuring two hamburger patties and two eggs cooked to your liking on a bed of rice, along with a scoop of macaroni salad.

“The Mixed Plate is our best selling plate, consisting of boneless chicken cutlet, mahi mahi filet and barbecue steak, served with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad or cole slaw,” he adds.

And when it comes to Rainbow Drive-In’s original plates, it’s the Chili Dog Plate that’s hard to beat. Made fresh everyday, Rainbow Drive-In’s famous chili is made from a Seiju Ifuku personal recipe.

“We try to stick with the original recipes, we don’t do anything fancy, we don’t chase trends — we just try to produce plate lunches as reasonably and as tasteful as possible,” Gusukuma says.

“In honor of our 50th anniversary this year, we’re also rolling back the prices to those that were seen in the 60s and 70s. So, be on the lookout for that.”

Anniversary specials include $1 Fried Rice, June 18 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 25-cent Hot Dog and Drink, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 25-cent Hamburger, Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 25-cent Saimin, Sept. 17 from 5 to 9 p.m.; and $1 Chili Plate, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anniversary specials will be sold only at the parking lot tent (limit five items each, no phone orders).

Rainbow Drive-In

  • Where
    • 3308 Kanaina Avenue
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 737-0177
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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