Restaurant Review: Richie’s Drive Inn

Hungry for some loco moco? Richie’s Drive Inn in Kalihi offers a great plate lunch.


Cameron Nishida

Richie’s Drive Inn famous loco moco

Cameron Nishida, Contributing Writer

The plate lunch, a staple of all Hawaiian drive ins, usually with a similar experience. The entrance into an often busy restaurant, with the sound of Filipino ladies with thick accents taking orders and the grill, sizzling with your lunch, filling your ears. With careful consideration, you order the item that you’re craving, get a number, then find the least sticky table you can. The savory aroma of freshly cooked french fries and gravy fills your nostrils, as the anticipation rises.

Richie’s Drive Inn, located in Kalihi, encompasses almost exactly what you would expect from an average Hawaiian drive in. Almost. Unlike most drive ins, you are greeted with a wall of cool air from the restaurant’s air conditioner. The pillars, painted a charcoal gray, and natural lighting add an almost chic aspect to the establishment. All the while, it retains the same welcoming atmosphere as your local, neighborhood diner. With some aspects of the past and a touch of modern flair and decor, this restaurant provides you the classic experience with its own unique vibe.

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone to Richie’s without ordering their famous loco moco. You first open the styrofoam container to a cloud of steam gently kissing your face. While the scent of the lucious brown gravy captivates you, your mouth begins to water. As the volcano of over easy eggs erupts with the touch of your fork, you reveal a river of yellow yolky magma. The gravy coats your mouth in a blanket of saltiness, which perfectly compliments the beefy essence of the two hamburger patties. Although, when combined, the juicy patty, starchy rice, and savory gravy creates a harmonious symphony of flavor. However, the addition of the yolky egg provides an umami which adds another layer of depth to the dish to produce the ultimate bite. Furthermore, a portion of macaroni salad accompanies the dish, which perfectly represents every drive in in Hawaii. With heaps of mayonnaise flowing over the sides of styrofoam tray, the salad possess an almost creamy aspect which appeals to some customers. The tangy accents provide a different flavor profile, ultimately adding another dimension to this dish.

Additionally, if you just so happen to visit Richie’s on a Friday, you should definitely order the Beef Stew w/ Lau Lau. The dish includes a tomato based stew, loaded with chunks of beef, carrots, celery, etc. The tanginess of the tomatoes surges throughout your mouth, as the slow cooked beef melts like butter with every chew. All the while, hints of spice dance on your tongue, causing tiny puddles of sweat to form on your nose. However, just two scoops of starchy rice, when paired with the stew, elevates the dish in term of texture and overall density. Also, the bitter accents of the luau leaf combined with the savory, tender pork inside provide a complete contrast to that of the stew. Though, the duo of the two creates a pleasant medley of flavor, unique in both taste and consistency. Similar to the loco moco, this dish is also accompanied by a portion of macaroni salad, for that niche group of individuals.

After devouring the entire plate lunch without hesitation, a wave of sluggishness crashes upon you. The slight feeling of regret crosses your mind, but your full stomach overwhelms you with bliss. Your eyelids suddenly are unable to open, as you find yourself suffering from the largest “kanak attack”(food coma) ever.