Are you an incoming (or maybe returning) student who has a crappy meal plan at UHM or maybe just wants to explore the different foods on the island, but can't afford most places? Look no further! I have made a short list of the best, and cheapest, places near campus that are easy to get to V The Bus.
Genki Sushi USA
This is number one on the list because I love Genki so much! Genki Sushi USA is a Japanese-based chain with locations in Hawaii, California, and Washington. The Oahu location on Kapahulu is less than 10 bus stops away on the 13 from UH's campus and it's soooo cheap. All the sushi plates are less than $6 and, to me, are super filling. I always get the Ebi Fry Roll that comes with 6 rolls of sushi and I'm good for the night.
If you dine in, you have to sit at a booth. Honestly, I think I love this place so much because I've never been to a restaurant that has a moving conveyor belt that actually brings your food to you. They even put your plates on little bullet trains and it's so freakin' cool! While attending UHM, you have to eat here at least once. You won't regret it.
Please note the photo above does not have their full menu.
Located at 2310 Kūhiō Ave, Marukame Udon is sure to satisfy your appetite for less than ten dollars. A lot of the regular sized bowls are about $5 (which are huge) and the large bowls (which are enormous) are between $5-10. There is also fresh tempura that you can purchase as well that are $1-3 each.
This location is very popular and as such, there are long lines out the door every day. However, I have found that even if you are at the back of the line, you only wait 10-15 minutes to go inside and sit down. Inside it's very clean and you can even watch the cooks make the noodles!
Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory
Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory is a local family-owned chain that serves plate lunches, noodles, and manapuas. The closest location to UHM is at 537 Pensacola Street by the Ala Moana Mall. Their $14 plate lunches are huge with 1-2 rice and noodle selections and 2-4 entree selections. Getting the entree selections and rice/noodles a la carte are $6-9 each.
The manapua, veggie or meat filled bun, is my favorite though. Each manapua is only $2.25! and I get full off of one or two. A great choice if you're on a budget!
#4 L&L Hawaiian Barbeque
L&L Hawaiian Barbeque is a chain started in Honolulu who houses a variety of bowls, noodles, musubis, and plate lunches. There is an L&L on campus, one near the Stan Sheriff Center Stadium, and one on Kapiolani Blvd that is close by. Plate lunches usually have rice, macaroni salad, and different kinds of protein and run at about $7-12 dollars, depending on what protein you get. I really recommend trying the Kalua Pork and Cabbage! It's the bomb. And this could also be the perfect place for you to try your first SPAM musubi, which is only $1.99! Grab a Hawaiian Sun can as well and you'll have the perfect lunch.
Rainbow Drive In
Rainbow Drive In off of Kapahulu is a go-to spot for plate lunches and is very affordable. It's an open air restaurant and you can't miss the gorgeous rainbow building. Most plate lunches come with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and your choice between various kinds of proteins and are $8-10. They have a variety of sandwiches, hot dogs, chili, etc that are only $2-7. They also serve breakfast which is $5-8! I think their loco moco is to die for, but you'll have to go try it for yourself!
Bonus Place: Leonard's Bakery
Yeah, I know I said Top 5, but wherever you end your lunch or dinner at, you have to stop at Leonard's Bakery on the way home and get a fresh hot malasada. They're holeless doughnuts coated in sugar (either regular sugar, cinnamon sugar, or my personal favourite, li hing) and are only $1.30 each! You could also get a filled malasada, called a malasada puff, and that's either guava, macadamia nut, custard, dobash, or haupia for only $1.65 each! The perfect (and cheapest) dessert on the island!
There's so many more restaurants you can go to besides this list! Zippy's, Like Like Drive In, the Ala Moana Food Courts, Musubi Cafe, poke from Foodland, Lanikai Juice, and so many more that I haven't even tried yet! Just keep an open mind and enjoy the food!