As you walk into the second floor food court at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus Center take a turn to the left and walk past the bottled beverage refrigerators, and the open chiller decked out with various sandwiches, sushi, and desserts. Ahead of you will be the “hot line” at which you will be able to get your fair share of local favorites such as chicken katsu, katsu curry, hamburger steak, roast pork, and many other “plate lunch” style meals. You get a choice of white or brown rice, and for the salad you can choose between mac, coleslaw or tossed greens. The daily special for Wednesdays is the Steak Plate with House-made Sauce. The “hot line also serves fresh hot soup every day. It seems like they follow Zippy’s lead and have Portuguese Bean soup available every day as well as a soup of the day. This Wednesday the soup of the day was Cream of Mushroom.
I ordered the Steak Plate with brown rice and tossed salad with Asian dressing. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try their interpretation of one of my childhood favorite soups, Cream of Mushroom.
The Cream of Mushroom soup was a bit more than what you would get out a red and white can of Campbell’s. The mushrooms were in slices, so you could actually tell they were mushrooms, and there were also slices of onion in the soup which added a new dimension to the creamy mushroom-ness of the old standard. It didn’t quite remind me of my childhood lunches of soup and crackers, but it did warm me up in my cold office. The “hot line” did a pretty good job with the brown rice. It was cooked enough that it wasn’t like chewing bullets, and wasn’t so overcooked that it was like a brown rice oatmeal. The tossed greens was nothing special. It consisted of chopped romaine. The dressing reminded me of one of Tropics brand Original Oriental Dressing. Nothing to write home about so far. Now to get to the meat (literally and figuratively) of the meal decent job cooking the steak. Most pieces were still tender enough to chew without struggle, but some were a little tough. The taste was simple and straight to the point. Salt and pepper. Nothing to overpower the taste of the meat, except for the “House-made” sauce. I personally don’t usually like to put sauce on my steaks, but the taste of this steak would have been a little flat without any accompanying sauce. A little horse-radish and au jus may have matched the flavor of the steak a little better. It looked to me like the cooks prepared the steak on the rarer side of mid-rare, and it was cut, then put into the warming pan where it would cook a bit longer. This is probably a great idea for the ready to go scoop to serve style the “hot line” practices, but nowhere near the home BBQ/Pre-Football game tailgating that I’m accustomed to.
Overall, it wasn’t the best $10 (almost) that I’ve spent on a meal, large soup about $3.50 and Steak Plate about $6.50, but it is something that I would consider eating again if I happen to be tired of my $5 footlongs on a Wednesday at work.