Downtown Eats: Yuki's Wagon

Yuki’s Wagon – today (September 18, 2008)

Like any other place of business, long lines are usually indicative of where the good stuff is at.

While we were set on eating at BWS Cafeteria on our visit last week, the congregation of folks formed in front of two lunch wagons right across the street of the Board of Water Supply parking lot when we arrived, stirred enough curiosity in us to at least walk over and see who and what THAT was all about. Turned out the one in front nearest to the sidewalk is Yuki’s Wagon (notice it’s sans “lunch”), while the one in back is a “no name” Vietnamese wagon.

Yuki’s Wagon – last week Friday (September 12, 2008)

That curiosity of course was never forgotten, therefore we returned to the Board of Water Supply area again today to check these wagons out. Nothing like the weekly greasy spoon lunch hunt!

The “no name” Vietnamese Lunch Wagon behind Yuki’s

Yuki’s Wagon and the Vietnamese “no name” wagon behind it are located in the parking lot entrance of the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center of Hawaii building on Lauhala Street, adjacent to the Board of Water Supply customer service parking lot behind the building.

The wagons are located just to the left of that Plumeria tree

How ironic that lunch wagons – notorious for serving heaping helpings of animal protein and mega-servings of carbs – are located in front of a Cancer Research Center. LOL Part of a case study, perhaps? That might explain why you’ll see doctors and nurses dressed in scrubs working nearby joining the crowd at these wagons. For real!

Enough about that, we stay hungry! What’s get fo’ grind?

Yuki’s Wagon everyday menu

Yuki’s Wagon mini plates menu

Yuki’s wagon daily specials (for Thursday, 9/19/08)

These were the daily specials served last week Friday at Yuki’s Wagon…

Yuki’s Wagon daily specials for Friday, 9/12/08. Diggin’ the artwork of the fishies. lol

As is common with most places serving local grinds on “Pauhana Friday”, last Friday Yuki’s included Hawaiian plates on the daily specials list. Kalua Chicken, ay? Never tried that before. Turkey, yes, Chicken, no. Have you? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it!

Don’t forget the add-ons, like chips, cold drinks and perhaps a Spam Musubi…

Gotta’ love the (empty) soda and juice can flavor choices displayed on a rope… classic!

While having healthy options such as brown rice and green salads at a lunch wagon or plate lunch stand are nice to have, the foundation of it are in the comfort foods. I mean COMFORT FOOD. Therefore, I pulled out all the stops today and went with the Roast Pork & Gravy with white rice and mac sal’…

Yuki’s Wagon – Roast Pork with Gravy, white rice and Macaroni-Potato Salad, $7.00

Oh yeah!

I must note that when ordering this plate, the server/owner asked, “you like gravy all ovah?”. Brah, ‘das da’ magic question, right deah! Of course, aunty, load ’em! Customer service, my friends. Customer service! As you see, “gravy all ovah” is code for on top da’ rice and possibly leaking into da’ mac sal. Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Diner E went with Teriyaki Chicken and Beef Cutlet mix…

Yuki’s Wagon – Teriyaki Chicken & Beef Cutlet mix plate, $7.25

Diner AC (you go girl!) ordered the Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs…

Yuki’s Wagon – Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs with brown rice and tossed greens (no dressing by request), $6.50

Diner A went “rebel” on us and ventured to the Vietnamese “no name” wagon behind…

picking up the Teriyaki Chicken Salad plate, along with an egg roll…

“No Name” Vietnamese Lunch Wagon – Teriyaki Chicken Salad plate, $5.50 & Egg Roll, $1.25

What’s interesting about this wagon is, if you look at the photo of their service window, they have fully-assembled plates on display (wrapped in plastic) so you can see what to order. Nice touch! If we were in Japan, those would be made out of plastic. lol

Here’s a cross-cut view of that egg roll…

So how was it?

In the order that the plates are shown here, let’s start with my Roast Pork with Gravy plate from Yuki’s Wagon, which I’ll give a solid 3-SPAM Musubi rating. The rich, thick, properly-seasoned brown gravy smothering the generous portions of tender, nicely roasted pieces of pork was very satisfying. The pork itself could have been a little more moist though. I think it was in the oven a bit longer than I’d have liked, but of course, the gravy quickly masks that notion. Still worth noting though. While it’s not going to earn the “Kewalo Factor” award, it’s within reach, perhaps if ordered on the “on” day, if you know what I mean.

Diner E was very very happy with his Teriyaki Chicken, noting that it tasted and had texture of being baked, in a good way. Very moist and tender, while being browned just right on the outside, with a fantastic Teriyaki covering it. He wasn’t as favorable about the beef cutlet, saying it was overcooked and dried out. Still, the Teriyaki chicken made up for that, along with the ono Macaroni-Potato salad, taking up the slack and earning his plate a just-made-it 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

Between Diner E and myself, we both agreed the Potato-Mac Sal’ was winnahz here. Great texture, cool in temperature and neutral, yet-has-bite creamy mayo’ dressing, while keeping it simple with just the addition of grated carrots and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Solid.

Diner AC is part Chinese, so she would know what good Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs should taste like. Her only thing with the one from Yuki’s is that it didn’t have enough “sweet” in the sauce, leaning more on the acidic (vinegar) side. Other than that, she noted the pork as being tender and cooked down nicely, while being very generous in portion (a non-factor for her, but still worth some points).  I tried a piece of the spare ribs from her plate and thought it was very good, and on par with what the dish should taste like. I swear I tasted pineapple in there, which I know some folks use in their Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs recipe. Diner C tried a piece (actually finished the rest!) and noted it reminded her more of Pork Adobo. To each their own I guess! Diner AC also appreciated the freshness of the tossed greens. After all is said, done and eaten, Diner AC gave her Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs plate from Yuki’s a solid 2-SPAM Musubi rating.

Finally we have our rebel, Diner A, who gave his Teriyaki Chicken Salad and Egg Roll plate from the “No Name” Vietnamese Lunch Wagon a solid 3-SPAM Musubi rating. As skinny as he is, he’s our resident “plate polisher”…


Wow Diner A, that must have been ono!

Last note, my apologies for not having the proper name of the Vietnamese Lunch Wagon behind it. Diner A didn’t ask their name, and neither was it written anywhere on the menu boards or wagon itself. Nor did I go inquire myself, which I should have. Why do so many lunch wagons operate unmarked? Even Yuki’s wagon is like that. Thankfully, at least Yuki’s wrote their name on the menu board! In lieu of that, Diner A’s 3-SPAM Musubi rating is enough to consider looking this Vietnamese wagon up. Good grinds for sure!

Man, I’m full. Ippai desu.

Yuki’s Wagon operates out of a kitchen on Keeaumoku street. Here’s the information:

Yuki’s Place
(c/o Yuki’s Wagon)
1229 Keeaumoku St.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Tel. 941-6097

Yuki’s Wagon is located in the parking lot entrance of the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center of Hawaii building at 1236 Lauhala Street, adjacent to the Board of Water Supply Administrative Office on the mauka side of Beretania Street, just a block up from the Hawaii State Capitol. Call for business hours (most likely during the peak lunch hour window within the work week).

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)


11 thoughts on “Downtown Eats: Yuki's Wagon

  1. Hey, even doctors and nurses need to get some good, fatty comfort food!

    The real question should be: Why do I persist on reading your blog on an empty stomach? :-0

  2. Oh boy! That what I call a good lunch. I go with the lunch wagon if I live and work in Honolulu around that area. The lunch wagon one with no name food is light. Selections seem not bad at all it different kind of food.

  3. man pomai:

    You got me hungry again. Lately i’ve been going to L&L on the mainland to satisfy my lunch plate cravings but L&L is junk compared to the real stuff!!!

    You also showed me a cancer research center in hawai’i. I might move there now that i know i can find work there. all for the plate lunches. hahaha.

  4. I been try get that Hawaiian food place call Rice bowl 88 to add teriburger to the menu. They regular hamburger along with L & L stuffs. There so many food business in the Westlake mall in Daly City serve hamburgers no Teri burgers. Those food from lunch wagon is mouth watering.

  5. Teri burgers is not easy to find in Calif. Many places have Hawaiian style island food does not carry it. They serve regular hamburgers copying all other food places. The lunch wagon with no name got lot of good stuff and it light food. Not into heavy meals that the way for me.

  6. I haven’t had that delish roast pork in forever. Yuki’s roast pork is better on Wednesday (that’s the regular “special of the day” for roast pork). And the mac salad is definitely the best I’ve ever had! Yuki’s hours are usually 11-2. Oh, btw the “no name” truck is a Ba-Le lunchwagon.

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