Episode 84: Island Flavors in Southern California: Where to Find the Best Hawaiian Plate Lunch

by | May 3, 2023


Get ready to dive into an amazing conversation with Duane & Charelle Anderson and Damon Leiataua, the team behind North Shore Plate Lunch in Southern California, as they share their passion for authentic island cuisine and the importance of preserving Hawaiian culture

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Best Hawaiian Plate Lunch in Southern California


Photo credit NSPL

This Southern California-based business is dedicated to providing an authentic Hawaiian plate lunch that will transport you straight to the islands.

In this engaging conversation, Duane, Charelle, and Damon share their personal journey, passion for preserving Hawaiian culture and supporting local businesses.

Their enthusiasm is infectious from their humble beginnings and love for Hawaii to their dedication to serving delicious and authentic island cuisine.

The episode explores the world of Hawaiian plate lunches and delves into the cultural significance of these meals and their impact on communities.

best hawaiian plate lunch west coast

Photo credit NSPL

One of the highlights of this conversation is the in-depth exploration of Duane and Damon’s favorite spots on Oahu.

They enthusiastically recommend visiting the North Shore of Oahu and share their personal experiences at the Toa Luau, a must-see luau that offers an authentic and immersive experience.

As they reminisce about their favorite places, you’ll be inspired to start planning your own Hawaiian adventure.

Throughout the episode, Duane and Damon emphasize the importance of supporting local Hawaiian businesses. By sharing their own experiences and the challenges they’ve faced, they inspire listeners to not only enjoy the delicious offerings of North Shore Plate Lunch but also to seek out and support other local Hawaiian establishments on island.

Supporting these businesses preserves Hawaii’s rich culture and traditions and allows for a more authentic experience for those who visit the islands.

hawaiian plate lunch restaurant

Photo credit NSPL

This episode is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the aloha spirit. The stories shared by Duane and Damon serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating Hawaiian culture, both on the islands and beyond.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the incredible world of North Shore Plate Lunch and the people behind it.

Tap play to hear this journey through the heart of Hawaiian culture and cuisine.

hawaiian plate lunch norco

Photo credit NSPL

You’ll Learn

  • The story behind North Shore Plate Lunch and how the founders, Duane Anderson and Damon Leiataua, started their business in Southern California
  • How the North Shore Plate Lunch team strives to maintain the authenticity and cultural roots of Hawaiian cuisine
  • The importance of family and community in Hawaiian culture and how it translates to their business
  • Recommendations for must-visit spots in Hawaii, including North Shore, Oahu, Lai’i, and Waimea Valley
  • The significance of supporting local businesses and the impact it has on preserving culture and traditions, both in Hawaii and beyond
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Island Flavors in Southern California: Where to Find the Best Hawaiian Plate Lunch


[00:00:00] Hawaii's Best: Aloha, my name is Renaya Aliatawa. Welcome to Hawaii's Best. Aloha. Welcome to Hawaii's Best. Here, you'll learn what to know before traveling as we discover Hawaiian culture, local businesses, and the experiences that make Hawaii one of the most incredible places in the world. And now, your host, Brian Murphy.

[00:00:25] Bryan Murphy: Aloha and welcome to episode... 84 of Hawaii's best. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is a very special episode I'm, really excited for this one because this is something close to where I live in southern california and Living in socal is sometimes it's hard to find some good island food And i've accidentally found it and it's only a few miles from my house North Shore Plate Lunch is in the city of Norco, California, also known as [00:01:00] Horsetown, USA.

[00:01:02] And this is really cool. I love stories about local businesses and especially Hawaiian owned local businesses, and I really wanted to share. their story with you. So a few weeks ago, we got together on a Saturday morning and talk story about how North Shore plate lunch came to happen. You got to check these guys out.

[00:01:21] Los Angeles is our third most downloaded city behind Honolulu and Tokyo. We got to do something about our Japan audience because Tokyo is just behind Honolulu as far as downloads for this podcast. So if you are From Japan, I would love to hear from you, reach out to me, and I'd love to see how we can work together and bring Hawaii's best to be more accessible in Japan.

[00:01:51] But anyways, you're in Southern California, you're in the Los Angeles area, or even the San Diego area. It's kind of in the middle, Norco. It's kind of where the [00:02:00] 91 and 15 meet just northwest of that area. And if you ever want to be transported back to the North shore of Oahu, you got to check these guys out to find all the info and all the details talked within this episode, you can go to Hawaii's best travel.

[00:02:22] com slash episode 84. That's eight four. All right. Well, without further ado, let's go ahead and let's talk story with the team over at North Shore Plate Lunch in Norco, California on Hawaii's Best.

[00:02:45] Duane Anderson: All right, North

[00:02:45] Bryan Murphy: Shore Plate Lunch. We're in beautiful Norco, California, which is cool. We're like on location and this is the very first time that we've done an on location. In Southern California on the [00:03:00] West coast, not on the Island. So before we even get into how this started and why it started and why Norco and all that, let's just go around.

[00:03:08] We have this, your name and a little bit about what you do here at this

[00:03:12] Damon Leiataua: restaurant. Hi, good morning. Damon Leotawa. I'm, uh, one of the owners here. Don't have a specific job, I would imagine, but, but we do a ton of, a bunch of stuff behind the stage, back backstage, whatever needs to be done.

[00:03:25] Duane Anderson: That's what I do.

[00:03:27] Awesome. Dwayne Anderson. We're both first cousins. So we come from the same family and I am one of the owners as well. And I handle the recipe creation and stuff like that. Oh,

[00:03:39] Bryan Murphy: okay. How's it everybody?

[00:03:41] Duane Anderson: This is Sherelle. I'm the manager here.

[00:03:46] Bryan Murphy: So if you walk in, we usually see your face. Yeah. I'm here. Yes. All right.

[00:03:50] Well, let's go. Let's start with how this all started. Talk a little bit about the history, how the restaurant came to happen. Duane, let's

[00:03:59] Duane Anderson: start with [00:04:00] you, man. This is our first restaurant, actually a little bit of history. We were a catering company as of 2015. We mainly focused on a lot of the Island festivals throughout the Southwest.

[00:04:11] And we always had the dream of opening up the restaurant. When we started the catering, the ultimate goal was to, uh, have a brick and mortar one day. Okay. So while we were doing the catering, we were doing well on the side. We're doing a lot of festival activity. Once the COVID hit. It did all that festival activity just dried up and went away.

[00:04:31] So for a couple of years, we laid dormant. And as we got older, my partner and I, my cousin, we started to think more about either we're gonna pull the trigger on this or we're not. Yeah. So... In May of 2022, which was last year, we were over there in Hawaii. We had went back to go lay to rest the ashes of my uncle, who is my mom's brother and his father, my dad.

[00:04:57] Okay. Um, in La Hawaii at the [00:05:00] cemetery over there next to my mother and my father and my, you know, many other family members, my nephews and them were all buried in the same area. Yeah. So we brought them back while we were there at our favorite beach turtle bay we're floating in the. Baby beach. And I look at, look at my Uso over here and I tell him, Hey, Tully, we're either going to do this or we're not going to do this.

[00:05:20] What do you want to do? And he said, we'll do it, man. We'll do it. So when we were there, we decided, okay, we're going to do it. And I was, I turned 50 last year. So that's what I told him. I said, I'm about to hit my, you know, 50th birthday. And either we're going to, we're going to rock and roll with this because it's, it's a lot of work to do it.

[00:05:39] We were going to. Can I come about it? Should we try to move forward and open up the spot? So it came back and we and we had a commitment with Promenade Elementary, which we've always taken part of their their luau, and they had reached out to us prior to us going to Hawaii, and we committed to them, you know, Post COVID, now we're ready to go.

[00:05:59] We can do it. [00:06:00] Um, that will show up and what you do, we'll do your luau. It was the first time they were allowed to in a couple of years, we came back and we, and we did that luau and we decided, yeah, we are going to pull the trigger. We still had no plan. We were still just kind of figuring out, kind of see, right.

[00:06:13] Bryan Murphy: There wasn't a restaurant that came before this. There wasn't a history

[00:06:15] Duane Anderson: of nothing. We had no deals in place. We had no potential locations. We were nothing. When I say nothing is nothing of nothing. We had a catering license, a business license, an LLC. But nothing else. We hadn't talked to realtors or anything.

[00:06:28] So while we were over there, a friend of my sister in law, her name is Carla. She's a realtor. She was actually looking at this location for a different concept of a business didn't really work for her while they came to that Lua, they showed us the video. We were like, okay, cool. That looks like a good option.

[00:06:45] Within a week, we're already in negotiations for the

[00:06:47] Damon Leiataua: place. When Carla came over showed us the video, you know, we saw the video and we looked at each other was like, this is the place

[00:06:54] Duane Anderson: it felt like the spot,

[00:06:57] Damon Leiataua: right? Yeah, I got this is it. And then [00:07:00] actually, when we went back, cleaned up, unloaded everything that night.

[00:07:04] We actually drove by here. We said, let's go check it out at night. Let's just go see. So we drove by here, looped around, saw

[00:07:11] Duane Anderson: it at night. We're still open too. They had like a smoker going in the back. They had a smoker going on in the back. It was in the back and someone was watching and they were looking at us like we were weirdos

[00:07:22] Damon Leiataua: or whatever.

[00:07:22] But the next morning we woke up and then we came to this location and we had said, let's go look at, let's go have lunch there now from an inside perspective, we looked at us. Man, this, this feels good. It's

[00:07:34] Duane Anderson: an option. It was totally, totally different design. It was the whole concept.

[00:07:38] Bryan Murphy: Let's talk a little bit about that experience.

[00:07:40] Just walking in to try it. Cause obviously this is audio and people don't have, we'll, we'll post some pictures and stuff, but try to give people a painted picture. They walk in. And what can they expect as maybe just from the front of the restaurant, then as they walk in, it's a little bit about that

[00:07:56] Duane Anderson: experience.

[00:07:57] If you come in here, you see that the busted up parking lot, [00:08:00] it's a single standing, just like

[00:08:03] Bryan Murphy: the North

[00:08:03] Duane Anderson: Shore, you're right. You know, then that's kind of the vibes people have told us, Oh, you need to fix the parking lot. And then when we come on the side, we're like, we're not fixing that. Beautiful

[00:08:14] Damon Leiataua: imperfections to where you do feel like you're in a part of an island and you know, Hawaii and

[00:08:19] Duane Anderson: whatnot.

[00:08:19] That's kind of the first thing you're going to see is you're, you're going to pull up on this. In Norco off a third inhabitant. Yeah. Once you come in, you're going to be embraced with Aloha with our, my lovely wife, manager, partner over here. So

[00:08:34] Bryan Murphy: we brought Aloha to Norco. It hasn't even been a year yet.

[00:08:37] Were you like all in?

[00:08:38] Duane Anderson: I was all in. Okay. Oh yeah. It's their dream for many, many years for sure. So

[00:08:43] Bryan Murphy: what about for you managing the day to day grind? How has. Some of those repeat customers you've seen and first timers, like, what are, what are some impressions that people, at least the feedback that you get?

[00:08:55] We get a

[00:08:55] Duane Anderson: lot of, lot of repeat customers. They love it. They love the Aloha [00:09:00] spirit. They love Island Grinds food. Most of the chain Island restaurants in SoCal, in the mainland period, they do what they do and we wish them Aloha prosperity. But what we felt is there was a huge void in the market for authenticity.

[00:09:15] So we know a lot of our favorite spots back home. They get a lot. On the menu. There's a lot going on. We knew coming into this, taking a business approach because our goal is to expand eventually. We can't do everything under the sun, but what we can do is take the staples and doing the best we can and then add those authentic things that were missing.

[00:09:35] Like a lot of people, they come in, they ask for a Hawaiian plate. They want all that. We haven't even served wildlife yet. We're almost seven months in. We haven't served it yet. There's a reason behind that because I can't get the fresh luau the way that we feel it needs to be served. Everything needs to be served fresh.

[00:09:50] We cook fresh, our customer basis. They've they know that now we've initially the wait appeared to be long. We're probably about 15 minute turnaround, [00:10:00] less than that, you know, most of the time, but when we get packed, it takes a little bit of time, we've got a small kitchen and our staff works really hard to deliver that authentic experience.

[00:10:10] Yeah, they make it work better by the day, you know, if they wait 20 minutes, it's not even a thing because they know everything was cooked fresh to order and they know when they came in and, and we greet them with Aloha and a little bit of a, about 15, 20 minutes and they're all good. So I, myself. My cousin, my wife, my sister in law, none of us could find like a real assignment.

[00:10:32] So my wife is from Kauai, a Mura assignment. That's the sets the tone, right? So we like, okay, we need to make assignment that speaks, that speaks to all the local people that have been. Around or even the Simon, when I used to go visit when I was a kid, you know, that Simon, that would come off the truck that's in the styrofoam, 32 ounce cup with the and some eggs and spam, you know, we knew just a simple broth [00:11:00] with a good noodle.

[00:11:01] And then the, the egg spam or the house made char siu, which is. My man over here to my right, that's his char siu. So we, we, we hang our hat on that. The broth too is his recipe. So, um, we're proud to serve that. And when we get local people that come in and they, and they eat it and then just the expression on their face, they'll usually.

[00:11:21] They'll take the time to set the chopsticks down and come up to the front and say, Hey, yeah, that's the one I was looking for. Yeah. So

[00:11:28] Damon Leiataua: we wanted to make sure, yeah, we want to make sure the broth and the chashu was right. And it, and, and it hit home. It's just sparks of memories when we were young. I mean, basically North Shore plate lunch is like everything we'd like.

[00:11:41] Growing up when we were younger, that's, that's what we wanted to bring, you know, to, to Norco now. Right. Yeah.

[00:11:46] Duane Anderson: Why the North shore? Cause that's where our family comes from. So to give you a little background on my cousin and I, um, we're first cousins. We, our family comes from Samoa, um, originally from Western Samoa, then [00:12:00] migrated to American Samoa, and then we, then they migrated to Hawaii where the same house is.

[00:12:06] Occupied by our first cousins that they're still there. That's the house that my grandfather brought all them over to my mom, his father, and the many other siblings, you know, they attended cocoa high school before, uh, later on my, uh, migrating further into Los Angeles area. I think it was Carson Carson at the time.

[00:12:27] And then that's where we came about. So we're part of that, the LA. LA born and raised Leotaua family line, but our roots were in Hawaii. So our hub, when we would go back to visit the family, it went from being Samoa to Hawaii, strong connection that we always kept with that. Like I was going back for summers or, uh, even my sisters went to school over there and eventually ended up marrying local guys from.

[00:12:53] From like, and raising their families there. So my parents went back over there and that's where they, they were laid [00:13:00] to rest. So, you know, our, the connection became stronger, the bond was there. So that's why absolutely we had to represent that. So that's the only side we know.

[00:13:09] Bryan Murphy: I remember seeing the flags out here and like, Oh, North shore.

[00:13:12] Cool. Like, I didn't think much of it at first. Okay. Is this like the real deal? Cause you know, in this area you're thinking like, cause there's some other ones, like, okay, like, is this real? Like for reals? Well, first when I walked in. Oh, this feels right. You just feel it. I think Kimye was on or something like that.

[00:13:30] Like you just feel it. It just felt right. It just felt okay. There's a vibe happening. Okay. We'll see. We'll see. We're waiting. And my little girl, she's like, how long is it going to take? I'm like, they're making like, I got like a sense. I saw the guy cooking. I'm like, no, I think this is going to be good. No, it's going to be good.

[00:13:49] And she had it. But yeah, that's been my, my experience is coming in, you know. Off the street, like figuring, okay, this is like the real deal. And what about the, the Hawaiian [00:14:00] community in this area? What type of feedback have you guys received in that?

[00:14:04] Duane Anderson: Yeah. So since we've opened, we've had people come from San Diego.

[00:14:11] Oh, no way. Yeah. San Bernardino, like super far. They'll come. And, you know, you never know, Hey, I know you, you know, from so many

[00:14:20] Bryan Murphy: years ago,

[00:14:23] Duane Anderson: we run into all kinds of people knows you and, you know, knows your cousin and knows it's all family. They all come here and they're so happy that we, you know, there's a island place in the IE, like real kind, good

[00:14:39] Bryan Murphy: food.

[00:14:40] Damon Leiataua: Right. So it's funny. We, we didn't really know there was a huge island community in Norco. And then when we opened, all of a sudden we have customers coming in and say, Oh, I just live behind the restaurant. I never knew this was here or crazy. Or, uh, we had a young gentleman coming here. He walks here and he shows up and he's all tatted up and say, Oh, I [00:15:00] just lived down the street.

[00:15:00] So those are those things to where it's a pleasant

[00:15:03] Duane Anderson: surprise to meet. Become somewhat of a meeting place for a lot of the Islanders as well as the locals. So we're like, we got to, we got to say something about Norco. So a lot of people said, why Norco? Why Norco? One, because that's the spot we found. And there was a bus that works.

[00:15:19] We live right here in Corona, but the Norco community, we were told when we came in, a lot of people said, if you're not from Norco, man, you're not going to make it. And we were like. Well, we're committed, you know, so we're going to go undeniable

[00:15:32] Damon Leiataua: support in the area where they support, they're like, Oh, you're in Norco.

[00:15:36] We support our own, and it's great to see, especially in a small business

[00:15:39] Bryan Murphy: shop.

[00:15:40] Duane Anderson: Oh, and then us being us being Polynesian too. You know, we got, we saw more, but we have Tongan family member, Hawaiian and then Mexican, you know, everybody married into the family and it just extends out. So the extended family, the word gets out.

[00:15:55] Our family plugs us like nobody's business. Well, We're running into so many people that are either [00:16:00] from Hawaii, have lived in Hawaii, Hawaii experiences, or just in love with the Aloha and they, they, they come in and they, they want to talk stories with us and we, we're

[00:16:10] Damon Leiataua: happy. There's some customers that come in on, you know, at the beginning on Sundays and, and they go to Hawaii all the time and they come in and they just want to just hang out and it's just great to see feel the vibe, and they want their, their, their fix for the

[00:16:24] Bryan Murphy: week.

[00:16:25] Yeah. I love that moment you're sharing earlier, just about like, are we going to do this or are we not? I think a lot of those moments, sometimes we miss and to like, hear you guys actually do it is really inspiring. The way it

[00:16:38] Damon Leiataua: started is when we used to cook for our family. So we were like, Damon and Dwayne, can you guys cook?

[00:16:43] And cooking more and more and more for all the, and then in 2014, I had a, uh, Maniah, the oldest had a baby. And then she's diagnosed with the congenital heart defect. Basically, she was in children's hospital. Basically, what it is that the arteries that feed the [00:17:00] heart, they were inverted, reversed. So anyways, so we were in charge.

[00:17:04] I know I'm

[00:17:05] Duane Anderson: taking living in the hospital. Well, she had three open heart surgeries before she was even what a year old. So even with that, even with the challenges he was facing, I even told him, Uso, you don't have to come. We'll take care of it. In our first gig, we thought it was like, holy crap, man. We're investing in two boxes, two whole boxes of chicken.

[00:17:28] Are we gonna make our money back? We were like, we're like sitting there going, 80 pounds, man. Do you really think 80 pounds is gonna

[00:17:34] Bryan Murphy: be enough?

[00:17:35] Damon Leiataua: Those are those learnings from the beginning to now, and we, we blew it out. So we have pictures of how it started. And then now when we're talking about it, we're looking, I look at Dwayne and look at you and look at now.

[00:17:48] Duane Anderson: We played lunch together. We sold out in two hours, but he was there. That's the whole thing. He showed up. And this is her right here. Mata. I mean, Manaka. Say, say, say aloha to everybody. [00:18:00] Aloha, she's alive and well, she's alive and well, it was like after that moment, we were like, all right, we're on to something, you know what I mean?

[00:18:08] We, we always were passionate about what we did. We knew what we do. We're not like cocky guys, but We're confident in, you know, I don't, I don't cook French food. I don't cook Italian food. I can do some one food, Italian food, Hawaiian food. That's what I do. We don't do fusion stuff. You know what I mean?

[00:18:26] People have said, you need to fuse this. And I was like, you know, I'll leave the fusion to the fusion guys. You know, we just, we keep it simple, man. Let's talk a little bit

[00:18:34] Bryan Murphy: about what maybe a Hawaiian plate lunch is traditionally. Yeah, yeah, for

[00:18:38] Duane Anderson: sure. So speaking of plate lunch, even the, the verbiage of plate lunch, if you look at the banners out in the front, we have, now we have stuff that says Hawaiian barbecue.

[00:18:47] That was because everybody thought this place was like a nail place or something. They thought it was a boutique. Nobody knew what a plate lunch, but anybody from Hawaii or anybody that knows. They know what a plate lunch is. A plate lunch is a [00:19:00] place, that's how food is served. Whether it's for lunch, breakfast, or dinner.

[00:19:03] And it's a, and it's pretty simple. Two scoops of rice, mac, and whatever the protein is. Yeah, protein.

[00:19:08] Damon Leiataua: So Mac and two scoops of

[00:19:10] Duane Anderson: rice man, locals ridiculous. Don't get more local style. And then it's ridiculous. You have a lunch or whack Mac, take it back cause it's no food.

[00:19:23] Damon Leiataua: Yeah. If we can go and sit back and there's customers that come here, brings them home for a moment, remembering home or the islands for that particular time, either lunch or break or whatever it may be. That was the whole idea and our part of it, at least.

[00:19:39] Duane Anderson: Of course, we had to offer something that was synonymous with the North Shore, the garlic shrimp.

[00:19:43] Right. So. We've eaten garlic shrimp all over the place. You know, Giovanni showed up to the North shore back in the, in the mid nineties. Uh, actually one of my, one of our nephews used to work on that truck back in the days too, but I know I've always loved Giovanni. So that's like, we got to do a good garlic shrimp.[00:20:00]

[00:20:00] And then there's the other places down the road, Romey's, Fumi's, all those other places, tried them all. So what we wanted to do is like, all right, let's take the garlic shrimp concept. But let's do it the way we want it to do it. Absolutely. Let's use a little bit bigger of a shrimp, let's use the 16 to 21 count, six, seven pieces with the weight on it.

[00:20:20] The way we do it is we, you know, we make the batter, we give it a little bit of a crust. So it's not, it's not like it's a. I want to say like soupy. So a lot of times when you eat that, a lot of garlic shrimp, sometimes it's just a straight raw looking shrimp and they give you a sauce to dip it in. And sometimes it's just smothered in a very thick and buttery and oily type of sauce.

[00:20:41] We wanted to kind of find. The happy medium. So we wanted to get the shrimp to where we got a nice crust on it. You know, you see, I'm talking about it, but we're passionate about the food. We wanted the garlic has to be hand chopped. We're not using any pre minced garlic. It has to be hand chopped. So you see those different irregularities and the sizing, [00:21:00] and then we just, we hit it with.

[00:21:02] Nice quality olive oil and butter and then we get the garlic in there and then we drop those shrimp Flip them and smack them with the lemon on the way out, you know lemon Yeah, fresh lemon and then we uh, then we drizzle that, you know Just like a lot of the garlic sure you got you want that garlicky buttery, right?

[00:21:19] Loveliness on top of your rice too, and with a lemon wedge and out it goes, you know, so we, we wanted to make sure that we competed with that. I, you know, of course I'm a fan of ours. You know, that's, that's, I'm always going to push ours. I love ours, but I love to experience everything. I, we love to see everybody prosper and, and, and keep doing their thing.

[00:21:37] So a local mocha was another one. We couldn't get a good local mocha to save our lives around here. So we start with like a brown gravy base and then we add. Our little special touches to it. So, so it becomes our own little North shore brand. That's why we like to express it. Now to share our North shore NSPL, North shore plate lunch brand of Hawaiian food.

[00:21:59] [00:22:00] So,

[00:22:06] Bryan Murphy: all right, it is that time. It is time for any kind of news. And on today's any kind of news we got, Damon is going to do it for us. All right, man, go ahead and take it away

[00:22:16] Damon Leiataua: on this edition. Any kind of news. Sea Life Park on Oahu has revamped and named its luau experience as Aloha Kai Luau. The updated event held Sundays through Fridays at Makapu'u Meadows offers stunning ocean views through the east side of Oahu.

[00:22:34] The Aloha Kai Luau has expanded its cultural activities and performances with demonstrations as a ceremony presentation around the imu, where the kalua pork is cooked. All activities include coconut weaving, coconut tree climbing. Hula, the Samoan fireknife dancing, the menu features Kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, fish, chow mein noodles, and assorted cakes for dessert, while the bar offers Mai Tai's, my favorite, [00:23:00] beer, wine, and soft drinks.

[00:23:01] Due to the high demand of the Aloha Kailuau, the Sea Life Park, it is essential to book well in advance. During the peak summer months, the event can sell out for weeks or even months ahead of time. Early booking ensures not only the best seating, but also the most competitive pricing.

[00:23:18] Bryan Murphy: Thanks, Damon. Let's go ahead and head back into our conversation with the team at North Shore Plate Lunch.

[00:23:29] Have you guys been able to... Pause or zoom out. Like what's next or like dreaming again? Or it's

[00:23:34] Damon Leiataua: funny how you brought that up. We, we, we have our weekly meetings and then it came up and says, Hey, we need to start, we have our actions, key actions that we're doing for future, as far as planning out for additional, you know, for another location right now, we're just.

[00:23:49] Thinking about what's the right, where's the right place to be timing, timing wise. But, but most of our location, we'd love this unique spot. We'd like to find [00:24:00] another unique spot, maybe close by the beach, but we don't really know where we're going to land. But the whole thing is to get it moving and start investing the time to, to plan to, for the

[00:24:11] Duane Anderson: second location and not lose.

[00:24:14] Not lose any kids. We want to stay consistent with the vibe, you know what I mean? That vibe has to stay. It's got to stay organic and natural, which I think is that's just already embedded in who we are. Anything we do is going to be like that. I think so. But, um, the other plan would be. You know, in the next 10 years to have 20 of them out in a SoCal, Arizona, Nevada.

[00:24:34] Um, Nevada is a unique market because that's the ninth island. You always feel like you have one step in Hawaii and Nevada, you know, there's a lot of spots to go eat. But, um, with our concept, I think we can compete for some of the market share over there too. Yeah. Um, but right now, SoCal being our home, that's where, that's where our focus is.

[00:24:53] This is the initial one. Yeah,

[00:24:55] Damon Leiataua: sure. Yeah. So now when we're looking at spring and summer for this year. [00:25:00] We're going to partake in a bunch of events. We got PIPA coming up. So this is, this is something new and we're excited. This is wonderful that we're going to tap into because we tried last year. We had to close the restaurant to do PIPA and then this time we're going to stay open and then, and then do the additional events.

[00:25:17] Mind you, we've got a ton of catering and great things that are happening for

[00:25:21] Duane Anderson: us. It's been great, man. There's this

[00:25:24] Bryan Murphy: plaque that we've been looking at. It hangs in the restaurant. We're looking at it right now. It's a real plaque from the State of Hawaii House of Representatives. It says, The House of Representatives of the State of Hawaii hereby presents the certificate to North Shore Plate Lunch for the grand opening of their new restaurant in Norco, California.

[00:25:42] Now I'm not going to read the whole thing because that would take a little bit, but I'm going to post a picture of it. Guys, maybe if you could just summarize what this plaque is, what it means and why is it important?

[00:25:54] Duane Anderson: Definitely, uh, something that we hold very dear to our hearts. It was, uh, uh, we'd have to, I [00:26:00] got to mention my sister in law and my, and my brother junior who presented this to us.

[00:26:06] On our opening day, October 1st, 2022, and we were not aware about this document at all and what it is, you know, you'll see the picture, but what it is, it's actually a signed document, an official document from the House of Representatives, the state of Hawaii, basically endorsing us for what we do and kind of spreading the Aloha was very touching.

[00:26:27] I don't even know how they did it, who they know. They must know some people in high places, but Junior and Mata, we love you guys and thank you guys. Very much. You don't even realize how much we thank you for this certificate and how, how it makes us feel because it just lets us know that we're, you know, we're doing the right thing, you know, we're kind of, it even says it on here, value served in an environment of Aloha now and therefore, so that kind of.

[00:26:53] Speaks loudly for us that we're able to do this. And, uh, I've never seen one in another local [00:27:00] restaurant off the island. Uh, not even in the island, actually. So, uh, this is something we're extremely proud of, extremely humbled by first and foremost, but it, it actually acknowledges like. How we started our whole cooking journey.

[00:27:15] Damon Leiataua: This was just a fantastic honor to get presented this by my sister in law, Mata Matelassi. You know, we wanted to go and take a few moments and to talk about it briefly and then just to go and show most importantly, we want to convey the message of how grateful we are and to where we've been both.

[00:27:34] Everybody's been working great. To help validate this and it's just to be recognized, it's just been a true blessing. So other than that, just very, very grateful and honored for this, especially to have it posted. We look at that every day and it just keeps us grounded, you know, and then it keeps us, uh, like we, I said earlier in a ton of times is we're just trying to get better every, every single day.

[00:27:58] Duane Anderson: This is our badge of honor right [00:28:00] here. And we. Promise to the state of Hawaii, the people of Hawaii, we will do anything and everything we can always represent to the fullest, especially our North shore. I ain't got man, our family, man, we got, we got blood in the soil in Hawaii. So it was going to be a part of our life, part of our heart.

[00:28:17] So

[00:28:18] Bryan Murphy: anybody who comes on the podcast, I love to ask this question. Someone's traveling to Hawaii, maybe for the first time, whatever, maybe some spots let's talk about. North Shore, Oahu, what are some spots people want to make sure they head up on their travels?

[00:28:33] Duane Anderson: Oh, for sure, man. Of course, I gotta always go back to my default, uh, Lai'i, Hawaii.

[00:28:40] You know, that's like, that's where the, uh, the LDS temple's at, the BYU Hawaii's there, the Polynesian Cultural Center, uh, Hukilau Beach, which is... You know, go back to old school Hawaii, going to the Hukilau, that's the beach they're talking about. We're fortunate enough to have family roots from there, you know, and then, and [00:29:00] Hawaii, and that little town, like, is, is very old school culture, you know, like, the Samoan presence, the Tongan presence, the Hawaiian presence is, is still very strong.

[00:29:10] So it's like, my recommendation is always go hit the North Shore. Uh, there's a luau. That's over there called Toa Luau. That's a friend of ours, too. He started a luau, and it's over there in Waimea Valley. Waimea Valley, when we used to visit as kids, we used to be able to go back there and swim in the river, jump off the cliff, and then they shut it down.

[00:29:31] You know, if you go in, they're still like the same three families, old Hawaiian families that owned their three houses, I think. One of them is like sold to someone else, but there's still two, two families that have resided there from back in the days. When you go to this luau, Toa Luau, you're going to think like.

[00:29:49] Oh, where is this place? Cause it almost turns it almost like a reserve. Once you get back there and they have this beautiful setup, they give you an authentic, authentic experience [00:30:00] with, uh, they make a umu in front of you. But while the umu is being made, the beginning of the experience, you walk over there and they're peeling, they're peeling taro, husking coconuts, peeling bananas, and all that food that they're.

[00:30:14] That they're making that you're like jumping in and experience husking, husking, and then grading the coconut so they can make balsamic and make the fresh, but you get the experience of being made. Then they circle everybody up, and then they show when they uncovered when they start bringing that out. So you're like, uh.

[00:30:31] You're experiencing authentic deal. And then after wonderful, wonderful show representation of all the islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand, and then the MC, MC is awesome. When I got to go back there, my niece, our niece, it was one of my sister's kids, uh, and my nephew, them, they dance in there. So we were able to go in and watch them dance and do their show.

[00:30:55] But it's, it's so awesome. It's like. It's a long experience. It's like you plan [00:31:00] for the day. And if you're staying in town, you're gonna have to drive all the way around the island to the North Shore to Waimea Valley. But it's worth it. And uh, Toa Luau. That's my recommendation when you go there. The North Shore Plate Lunch was...

[00:31:13] It came about from many of the food places over there, right in that area. So when you go to, when you go up over there, you wanted some one plate, you go hit Masa's Market over there in Haah. Man, we used to get our, our poke from Tamora. Maybe we would load up, you know, we'd Tamora plate, we'd load up our, our Heinekens and our poke and go for a drive.

[00:31:32] Forget about it. Yeah, forget about it for

[00:31:35] Damon Leiataua: me, like if you say go to, if you're gonna go to Wahoo, I say North Shore. Lately for me is that, go to Turtle Bay, there's a public beach section, there's Baby Beach, that's been my tranquility, that's where the conversation happens, that is like, I'm good when I

[00:31:53] Duane Anderson: go there.

[00:31:53] That's the peace over there.

[00:31:54] Damon Leiataua: That's the spot. That is, for me, the spot. I just, I've grown to love it, now the [00:32:00] kids are older, just to sit back in the calm water and just, that's a piece of heaven right there. Don't forget Dwayne, you got to give, you got to give a shout out to the, the Royal Hawaiian, you know, you're going to go Waikiki.

[00:32:12] Oh yeah. We stay at Royal Hawaiian, but you got to go by the bar. You got to go see Sam over there. Sam, the man. He puts

[00:32:18] Duane Anderson: the floaters on the mic tie. He will make you

[00:32:19] Damon Leiataua: a mic tie with a floater that'll... Forget about it.

[00:32:26] Duane Anderson: That's so strong, man. You better be careful. It's a creeper.

[00:32:29] Damon Leiataua: If you're out there and you're mean, give us a call.

[00:32:33] Duane Anderson: Turtle Bay is funny because we spent so many, we had so many experiences going over there. Like I think it was during my mom's funeral. Back in 2012, our family went back there, we were staying over there and I went swimming and I had goggles and I went into the rock that's out there and I see sea urchins all over that thing.

[00:32:51] So the next, like the very next day, my sister came with her kids, grabbed a bunch of butter knives and goggles and fins and we, we had the [00:33:00] little bag that you put the fins in and we went out there. there and we started popping those sea urchins off and we're walking out of the water with a bag full of sea urchins and every, all the tourist people were looking at us like we're crazy.

[00:33:11] Bryan Murphy: You can fish over here.

[00:33:15] Duane Anderson: Hey, that's a lot of, that's a lot of money saved right there. Those sea urchins are expensive.

[00:33:19] Bryan Murphy: What's your

[00:33:19] Damon Leiataua: favorite spot out there in Waikiki to eat? In

[00:33:22] Bryan Murphy: Waikiki? Yeah. Uh, yeah. I mean, if we're in Waikiki, there's something magical about that, about that spot. Like at the Royal. Island Vintage?

[00:33:30] Where's that at? It's right next to the royal, it's in the, the center there, royal Hawaiian center. But it's like a coffee spot, but they have this island vintage wine. Oh, really? And the food there is so good. You like overlook the

[00:33:42] Damon Leiataua: courtyard area of the royal. Is that the one that's out in those two stories where all those, all the restaurants are there?

[00:33:47] Yeah.

[00:33:47] Bryan Murphy: Yeah.

[00:33:48] Duane Anderson: Oh, that place is pretty the bottom and what's the one on the top? Got another name, but I think they still own it. I think. Um, yeah, me too. Yeah.

[00:33:58] Damon Leiataua: What's the, what were they had the plate lunch in the [00:34:00] box where we were normally go, and then now we haven't gone

[00:34:02] Duane Anderson: in a minute. It's like a rainbows rainbow.

[00:34:06] Damon Leiataua: Back in the day, you'd say, where's your spot. Rainbows, that was it for me.

[00:34:12] Bryan Murphy: Well guys, thank you so much again for your time and bringing the islands here in SoCal. Appreciate you guys and what you're doing. Thank you so

[00:34:19] Duane Anderson: much. Thank you. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, brother.

[00:34:22] Damon Leiataua: Thank you for having us. And, uh, you know, it's always, it's been a great pleasure just to be a part of

[00:34:27] Duane Anderson: this.

[00:34:27] Your pipeline to original island grinds. Well, I

[00:34:32] Bryan Murphy: just want to say a big mahalo to the team over at North Shore Plate Lunch and for their time and hospitality. And for doing what they're doing in the heart of Southern California and representing Hawaii. And I just want to say thank you so much. So for me, it was a good reminder to even know if you're not on island and maybe dreaming of or visiting Hawaii again soon.

[00:34:54] Visiting local business like North Shore Plate Lunch, one, it kind of transports you [00:35:00] back to the islands and just get the good vibes and the aloha. The food but also goes to supporting local and that is super important wherever you're at in your community supporting local and if you love Hawaii supporting local Hawaiian businesses is equally important.

[00:35:19] So thanks so much again for joining me on this special episode and to find everything. That we talked about, you can go to hawaiisbesttravel. com slash episode 84. That's 8 4. And until next time, friends, be well, aloha.

[00:35:39] Hawaii's Best: Mahalo for listening to this episode of Hawaii's Best. To stay up to date on future episodes, please subscribe and visit us at hawaiisbesttravel.

[00:35:50] Duane Anderson: com.[00:36:00]

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