There are many reasons to venture to Aiea’s Newtown Golf Driving Range, and some would say that hitting a few golf balls actually is second to the food at Newtown Drive Inn.
“The golfers eat some, but most of our business comes from workers and residents around this area,” notes chef and owner Reid Matsumura. A long-time cook for establishments like Home Bar & Grill, Dash Gastropub and Tsunami Hawaii, Matsumura brings his expertise and specific taste for “simple food done right” to the revived Newtown Drive Inn.
Since taking over the eatery in February, Matsumura has been cooking up creative dishes like Asian Chicken Parmesan Sandwich ($5). It consists of chicken katsu, topped off with horseradish katsu sauce, melted mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, mayo and white bread.
What began as a meal for friends, Matsumura explains, has quickly become a customer favorite and a staple item on the menu.
Fresh Catch of the Day ($12)
Smoke Meat with Onions ($9)
Another dish making it on to the perpetual menu is Smoke Meat with Onions ($9). The once special-menu item comes from Matsumura’s friend, who smokes the meat himself. “We try to use everything local, as much as we can,” he shares about his drive inn. Matsumura finishes the smoked meat off with a traditional guava-jelly gaze, some shoyu and onions.
Aside from the general food you’d expect at a drive inn — such as cheeseburgers ($6) and plate lunches of Hamburger Steak ($8) and Loco Moco ($9) — Newtown also has at least one Fresh Catch of the Day ($12) available daily. Matsumura uses whatever is fresh, affordable and available — and depending on what the catch is, he chooses a preparation that is both original and tasty. When Now Plating visited, the fish was nairagi (striped marlin), panfried with shoyu, ginger and garlic, and topped with wasabi aioli and tomato lomi. All plate lunches also come with a side of rice and spaghetti mac.
When asked about owning his very first business, Matsumura replies, “I love simple, plate lunch food, and I’ve actually found a place where I can make whatever I want to eat, and that my friends can eat.” After trying Newtown Drive Inn, you’ll instantly become a friend too, but mainly a fan.
Newtown Drive Inn
Newtown Golf Driving Range
98-330 Kaahele St., No. A, Aiea
Daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.