Waimalu Eats: Jackie's Diner

Upon conversation with someone at work about ono ‘kine grindz (yeah, that’s all we talk about), the subject of Pasteles came up, where that person mentioned trying out Mario’s Cocina in Pauoa. Which had me once again getting da’ “onos” (craving) for some good Pasteles. Since I was in the Pearl City area yesterday, decided to stop by and try Jackie’s Diner, whom we hear also makes a darned great Pastele plate.

Jackie’s Diner is located in Waimalu Shopping Center, a busy strip mall located just a few blocks Ewa of Pearlridge Shopping Center…

One thing’s for sure is that there’s no shortage of places to get your grind on at Waimalu Shoppping Center. There’s Shiro’s Saimin Haven, Kapiolani Coffee Shop, Zippy’s, Chun Wah Kam, an Okazuya, Korean Restaurant, Jackie’s Diner, plus quite a few more I can’t even remember the names of.

Jackie’s Diner’ set-up is your standard casual dine-in/take-out plate style establishment, with booths lining one side of the place and a service counter on the other…

That’s my uncle sitting down eating ovah there. Nah, juss’ kidding. lol

So what get fo’ grind? Check ’em out…

Click on photo above to enlarge

Easily making my mind up based on what was said earlier, I chose the first selection, the Pastele Plate…

Jackie’s Diner – Pastele Plate: Pastele, Spanish Rice, Bacalao Salad, Macaroni Salad, $8.65

Diner A chose the same thing…

Jackie’s Diner – Pastele Plate: Pastele, Spanish Rice, Bacalao Salad, Macaroni Salad, $8.65

Diner E went for his standard “gauge plate”, da’ Hamburger Steak…

Jackie’s Diner – Hamburger Steak, $7.75

First we’ll start with Diner E’s Hamburger Steak, which he said – CHECK THIS OUT – reminded him of that from Kewalo Lunch Wagon. Now that’s a bold statement right there! That’s like serious “props” coming from him. He noted the macaroni salad as being smooth and creamy (a good thing), and the house-made burger patty had a well-rounded, true-to-the-dish flavor, while the brown gravy was deep and hearty. Here’s a slice of the hamburger steak…

The Kim Chee got an “all good” compliment as well. Pretty cool how Jackie slides in her Korean heritage – if just a touch – with the Banchan sides. Nice.

That said, he gave his Hamburger Steak from Jackie’s Diner a solid 3-SPAM Musubi rating.

Now let’s deconstruct these Pastele plates for further analysis, first and foremost starting with the Pastele…

Notice it’s wrapped in a Ti Leaf instead of the traditional banana leaf. This is also how The Pastele Shop in Kalihi does it. Which I don’t have a problem with. It certainly imparts a great flavor, plus adds plenty of moisture to it.

I know that looks kinda’ gross, but don’t judge this book by its cover. Trust me, however that may come across visually, taste-wise, it’s fantastic! The banana “masa” is perfectly seasoned, and as you see inside, there’s an abundance of olives and chunks of tender pork. I really like the flavor the Ti leaf imparts on it. It’s difficult to describe in words exactly what an authentic Puerto Rican Pastele tastes like, but this one from Jackie’s Kitchen is right on the money, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Then we have the “Spanish Rice”, which I’m not really sure if it’s Gandule Rice, as Diner A and I had a debate on whether the black-colored “peas” in it were Gandule (pigeon peas)…

Whether they’re Pigeon Peas or Black Olives, it was spiced and seasoned just right, with the right balance of moisture and stick. The perfect complimentary side dish along with the Pastele.

Then we have the Bacalao Salad…

This Bacalao salad was comprised of iceberg lettuce, tomato, watercress and onion, tossed with a welcome helping of shredded and well-rinsed salted cod in what tasted like a very mild basic vinaigrette dressing. Very good. What tasted even better was taking some of the leftover dressing after finishing the salad and mixing it with the Spanish rice. That was winnahz!

Finally da’ mac sal’…

It was indeed smooth and creamy, while also tasting very fresh (you know how some mac salads can taste sour and old), sticking with the basics and getting it right.

Oh, speaking of fresh, the Bacalao Salad is also made to order, tossed with the dressing just before service. Thank goodness.

Said and done, Diner A and yours truly give Jackie’s Pastele Plate a solid 4-SPAM Musubi rating. Backing up that claim is both of our polished plates…

Diner A’s “polished” Pastele plate

Diner P’s “polished” Pastele plate

We’d have to concur with their slogan “Onolicious Kau Kau”. Indeed, it was!

Next time gotta’ sample da’ Hawaiian grindz here.

Jackie’s Diner
98-020 Kamehameha Highway
Waimalu Shopping Center
Tel. 484 0999

download take-out menu – 109k PDF document (2 pages), current as of 4/09

Lau Lau
Bar-B-Q Rib

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)


13 thoughts on “Waimalu Eats: Jackie's Diner

  1. That looked good.

    I believe if a place makes a good mac salad the rest of the food should be good, which is why I do not like L&L.

    Yes, I am a hater.

  2. Another grind to check out at the shopping center, is Waimalu Chop Suey which has the largest gau gee you’ve ever seen. Since the one place on McCulley & King closed, this is one of the only places to find this specialty!

  3. I never appreciated a good mac salad until I left the islands and then was introduced to the many ways you could mess it up! The mac salad in your photos looked really creamy and just the right consistency.

    Dumb question time: How is a pastele different from a tamale? Both use masa and both are wrapped in leaves. Can you tell I’ve never had a pastele? (Shame on me.)

  4. Jackie’s is a big time favorite of mine! Looks like I may have to try the hamburger steak some day — if I don’t automatically blurt out “pastele plate, hot” when ordering time comes. Sounds like I’ll have to try the Korean place too, based on ilikegrind’s comment.

  5. Spotty, indeed Jin Soo is now on my to-do list (mahalo ilikegrind). Best Kalbi, eh? I’m there!

    Jenny, a pastele tastes much different than a tamale, and far better in my opinion (in all due respect to Mexican cuisine, which I love as well). You gotta’ try it. So ono. Very true, Mac Salad, as simple as it should be, often the easiest way to screw it up is by adding too much to it. Stick by the K.I.S.S. theory with Mac Sal, please!

    Nate, done. Check out the new post! Sorry for the delay on this blog. It was a very busy week for me.

    Jodi, you hit it right on the nail…70’s all the way with the architecture of this shopping center. All it needs are Gremlins and Pintos parked in front. lol

    Michael, I never thought about it, but now that you mention it, indeed lunch is my “thing” as far as blogging stuff. There’s many meals I have, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner that I DON’T blog about, which must be noted.

    Ali, I’ll have to check out that massive Gau Gee at Waimalu Chop Suey. They should come out with a list of the BIGGEST foods from each city. “Honolulu’s BIGGEST Gau Gee”. “Honolulu’s BIGGEST Burger”. stuffs laddat. That’d be interesting. And interesting to see the records get continuously broken. Ha!

    Melissa, indeed it was!

  6. We had our first ever Puerto Rican style pasteles here — they are ono!

    Also try the Korean place next door, too. I know you’re a carnivore at heart, but their squash jun is really good — the killer is the homemade dipping sauce they make. Mmmm, now I’m hungry…

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