Monday, August 18, 2008

Kamuela Deli and the Chicken Curry Katsu

Teri Beef and Chicken Katsu Mixed Plate

It's been a long day of flying, driving and shooting and we're hungry. Other than the bibingka at Lorie's house, we haven't eaten anything since breakfast at Honolulu airport. The problem I've found with the Kailua-Kona area is the general lack of great places to eat.

Sure, there's lots of places for tourists to eat. Along Ali'i Drive you'll find all sorts of places like Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp, but I want to eat local food - not this cheap, frozen, gimmicky tourist shit. Once upon a time, there was a rundown joint on Ali'i Drive, but that's gone now. In the mid 1990s, the Kona Ranch House had amazing breakfasts but that's gone too. Even the venerable Sam Choy closed his industrial park eatery. I can only imagine that living in Kailua-Kona must be miserable.

But at least there's Kamuela Deli in the Kona Coast Shopping Center off Palani Road.

Chicken Curry Katsu Plate

Kamuela Deli is your typical Hawaii plate lunch joint. For a few bucks, you get your choice of entree with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. To someone from the mainland, the delivery of two starches is just odd. For the rest of us, it's the National Dish of Hawai'i.

While you can get all sorts of meats, the one meat that has come to the center of the plate in the islands is the tonkatsu derivative known as Chicken Katsu. It's simple: take some chicken thighs, debone and pound until thin. Dip in flour and eggwash, coat with panko breadcrumbs and fry until crisp. Serve with traditional tonkatsu sauce.

Roughly thirteen years ago (or maybe fourteen), a shop in Honolulu called I Love Country Cafe started pouring curry sauce over their chicken katsu. Back in 1994, they were the only place you could order this new-fangled thing called Chicken Curry Katsu. Today, you can find it at plate lunch joints worldwide.

Side of Fries

After a long day of shooting all along the southern coast of the Big Island, it was time to grind. Gerry went with the standard chicken curry katsu while I opted for the chicken katsu & teriyaki beef combination plate. The katsu on both was as it should be: moist and crunchy. Paired with the curry sauce and the katsu comes alive, but the teri beef was tough and dry - I should have stuck with the katsu.

While it's not the best plate lunch in the islands, it's pretty darn good - and perhaps the only choice in Kailua-Kona.

Kamuela Deli
Kona Coast Shopping Center
74-5588 Palani Rd # 10
Kailua Kona, HI 96740

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