Masa’s Cafeteria

Tucked away in the industrial district of Mapunapuna is an eatery that appears to have withstood the test of time.  Sitting on Mapunapuna Street, near Mokumoa Street, just a couple warehouse fronts makai of the Sony Hawaii service center is Masa’s Cafeteria.

The two lions guarding the entrance are a unique fixture to the storefront.

Inside Masa’s you will encounter a spacious room filled with folding party tables and chairs lined up in the cafeteria style, and you will see the food line directly to your left.  At the far side of the room is a stage area  just like in local public school cafeterias.  I appears to have been used for large group functions back in the day.  Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture of it at the time.

A shot of the entrance and food line from a table inside.

And now for the food… The menu consisted of cafeteria staples such as curry, hamburger steak, sandwiches and burgers, accompaniments like side salads and slices of pie.  There were also items on the menu like roast turkey with gravy, chicken and pork adobo and “fresh corned beef” which is pretty much not-canned corned beef.  I opted for the corned beef on this day.  I also picked up a slice of custard pie and a fountain drink on my way down the food line to the cashier.

Orange plastic trays are available to help get your food down the line andto your table in one trip.

The corned beef was flavorful and tender, and there was quite a lot of it!  The meat had a softness to it that just made it flake apart with very little effort, and melt in your mouth with minimal chewing.  It reminded me very much of the kind of food I would have around St. Patrick’s Day except for the lack of boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes.  The meal came complete with two generous scoops of rice and a hearty scoop of mac salad.

Yum yum!!

The custard pie wasn’t anything too special.  It was pretty much the standard custard pie that you could get at any supermarket bakery or similar place.  However, a couple points to note is that the custard was a silky soft texture, but the crust wasn’t very flaky.

Soft and delicious custard filling. So tasty!

If you weren’t able to notice, the dishes that all the food is served on for dine in is actual chinaware and the utensils are all metal not disposable paper or plastic.  The dishes along with the trays and the whole feeling of the cafeteria kind of makes you feel like you’re being transported back in time.

Overall the food at Masa’s is quite simple, like cafeteria food is supposed to be, and even somewhat nostalgic.  There aren’t too many places around that still will serve this kind of home-style comfort food in a cafeteria setting.  I really did enjoy the food, and will definitely be back for more!…  As soon as I can get some more week days off from work.  I think next time I will try something smothered in gravy, or maybe even the chicken and pork adobo…

Steak Plate Wednesday

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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.