Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Rainbow Drive-In

My first morning in Hawaii I had a mission: get breakfast, walk to Ala Moana Beach, swim, and sunbathe. But where to get breakfast? I wanted something interesting that was not the typical eggs, toast, and bacon. Luckily, I discovered the Rainbow Drive-In.

I walked up Kapahulu Avenue for about fifteen minutes away from Waikiki beach and towards the mountains. The Rainbow Drive-In is located in the small community of Kapahulu at the entrance of Waikiki at Kapahulu Avenue and Kanaina Avenue. When I arrived the outdoor tables were packed and lines were still forming at the windows. As I approached I saw exactly what I wanted—fried rice with two eggs. I love fried rice for breakfast. When I was a kid I must have heated up some Chinese leftovers for breakfast one morning, and it was love at first bite. However, I’ve never been anywhere that shared this passion enough to actually put it on the menu. Then I saw a few words scrawled beneath the item on the menu—“upon availability.” I began to silently pray, please be available, please be available. As I stepped up to the counter, thankfully they still had some left. I ordered the rice with two eggs over easy and also grabbed a cup of water.
The place was so packed, and I’d soon find out why, that I got the food to go and headed across the street to sit in the shade of a tree and look onto the Ala Wai Golf Course. I could smell the fresh greenery and feel nice island breezes as I enjoyed my tasty breakfast.
The portions were huge. For $5.25 I got an entire paper plate full of friend rice—a serious mound of rice, plus it was topped with two glorious fried over-easy eggs. The yolks split open and worked their magical, golden goodness into the crevices of the rice. Remember being a kid and turning your mashed potatoes into a volcano and using gravy for lava? Well, that’s what this was like, only better. The rice was amazing. It had just the right amount of salt and pepper, was fried to where it stuck together in easy-to-pick-up clumps yet was also just crispy enough. It contained celery, onions, green onion, and meat. At first I assumed it was pork, but then I remembered Hawaii’s love of Spam, so I tried a piece on its own, but it didn’t seem Spammy to me. It tasted more like sausage, and I’d find out later that it was Portuguese sausage. I wouldn’t have cared much if it was some random meat product. When I took a cooking class in China we made fried rice with a Spam-like substance that comes in a tube, so if they’ve got that going on here in Hawaii, that’s cool with me. As long as you give me fried rice for breakfast, you can put in all the mystery meat you want.
I was completely satisfied after this filling breakfast and was honestly not hungry again until about five o’clock that night. It’s the perfect place to eat if you need fuel for a long day, whether you’re working, hiking, or just taking a long walk to a beach as I did. They also serve many other breakfast options as well as plate lunches—all at an affordable price. Throughout the rest of the week whenever I would chat with locals they would ask me where I had eaten. Whenever I mentioned the Rainbow Drive-In they would nod in approval. When one such local found out I’d ordered the fried rice, he asked me if I got my eggs scrambled or over easy. “Over easy,” I replied. “Good,” was all he said. When the local crowd approves of your dining choices you know you’ve made a good decision!
You can check out their menu and Web site here, which also includes a brief and interesting history of the Rainbow Drive-In:

Rainbow Drive-in on Urbanspoon

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