I usually make my own lunch and bring it to work. But lately I seem to have acquired a personal lunch chef. His name is Bernard, of Bentos & Banquets in Wailuku. I always wanted a personal cook and he is definitely working within my tight budget. With his assistance I can eat like a queen for just 10 bucks. A week with Bernard is like food nirvana; I never want to cook my own lunch again.
The shift from weekend time-off to time-on shock rocks my system. It’s time for a big plate lunch. Bernard has prepared a delicious spread of chicken hekka with aburage, shrimp tempura, rice and potato mac salad. It’s only $7.50. I wash it down with their Akua, pure cane sugar root beer, for the sugar rush I need to finish the day.
A cute European tourist from a nearby hostel stands in front of me in line. “What makes the Thai fried chicken Thai?” she asks the server. The server shrugs but offers her a taste. The tourist shakes her head. “Too peppery. How about the shrimp tofu?” It must be just right, because she takes a plate and heads off into Iao Valley. Must be nice to be on vacation. I order the Cobb salad with chicken breast, bacon and avocado—once again for $7.50—and return to the office.
Bernard fixes me baked pork chops with mushroom gravy, but I’m not in the mood. His Asian garden salad with mochiko nori chicken sounds too light. “Can you make me a turkey burger instead?” I ask. No problem, he says. I even get those crispy crinkle fries on the side, with fresh lettuce and juicy tomato. This is the way to make it through hump day.
It’s noon and it’s suddenly crowded in here. All five tables are full of hungry people. The Wailuku professional in front of me says she’s not that hungry and orders a bobo. Bobo? That’s Bernard’s code for mini plate. Her co-worker says he’s starving and goes for the full-size plate of Kalua Pig, butterfish and Ham Hock Lau Lau special, while I order the chef salad.
Bernard is feeling festive. He offers a Cinco de Mayo special of chicken enchilada and chili relleno, served with Spanish rice and refried beans. I certainly can’t resist this celebration of Mexico and convince my office mate Kim to try it, too. Viva la enchilada! More importantly, thank God it’s Friday so I can pick up next week’s menu. MTW