In the last decade, Hawaiian restaurants have become as numerous in the valley as Speedo-clad Japanese tourists at Waikiki Beach. I've been firmly planted on the Hawaiian food beat at BW since day one--I've eaten at and opined about every one of the valley's island-themed restaurants within these pages over the years. And I've come to a final conclusion: They each get the job done about the same, though some scratch the itch of nostalgia better than others.
On the nostalgia front, I've come to know Shaka Shak as the most reliable place in town to get a can of Hawaiian Sun. You'll pay a whopping $2.25, but none of the other joints around town seem to able to keep the stuff in stock consistently. Plus, none of the others are as convenient for a drink drive-by as Shaka Shak, which is literally a shack set up in the Broadway Plaza shopping center lot. Curiously, it's situated almost directly in front of the grand master of Hawaiian food in the valley, Ono Hawaiian Cafe.
On the food front, Shaka Shak's menu is a mix of local favorites--kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, lau lau, teri beef, saimin--and house specialties like curry, soba and stir fry. Recently, I ordered a mixed plate called the Big Wave Board, a massive two-container meal of mayo-heavy mac salad, two scoops of white rice and a mound of teriyaki beef, kalua pork and grilled chicken. As plate lunches go, the meal was fine. The rice was perfectly sticky, the mac salad appropriately calorie laden and each protein moist and distinctively flavored--the pork was a touch smoky, the beef a touch sweet, and the grill came through just a hint on the chicken under the teri-based sauce.
In the end, however, if plate lunch is what you're after, Shaka Shak does it just like all the others do. Maybe you like L&L Drive In better than Zippy's for some reason, or maybe you like them both the same and just go with whichever is closer. For me, the perfect Idaho Hawaiian meal would be a roundup of specific dishes from each of the valley's island restaurants. But when I'm not shooting for perfect, I hit the drive-thru at Shaka Shak.