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Apr 5, 2020
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Soon’s Kalbi Drive-In | Oahu, Hawaii

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In Hawaii (specifically the island of Oahu), there is a hidden gem for Korean kalbi bbq plate lunches. My mouth always salivates whenever I think about Soon’s Kalbi Drive-In at the Salt Lake Shopping Center. It is my favorite place to grab a meal and has the best Korean bbq plate lunches on the island and maybe even the world.

This place has sentimental and emotional connections with me because I used to go to both elementary and intermediate school right across the street from this place more than 40 years ago. Yes, I am old and Soon’s Kalbi Drive-In is older than me for sure . . . It is a testament to how good the Korean bbq at Soon’s Kalbi Drive-In is. It has withstood the test of time and competition where there are so many Korean bbq joints and plate lunch options out there in Hawaii.

In my much younger days, I remember the nice smelling, smokey Korean bbq aroma blowing from the shopping center drive-in across the street into our classrooms making everyone in class hungry. Now that I am older with a family, wife and kids, I bring them all back to this area when we return to the islands and recall my childhood memories over several delicious plates of Soon’s Kalbi plate lunches. It is actually the first place we go to after landing at HNL airport, and it sets the stage and a humbling tone for our vacation as we remember my childhood growing up on the island and visit the family and friends (the “ohana”) still there.

Now, Soon’s Kalbi has a variety of combo plates and noodle dishes. I recommend any combos with the meat jhun, bbq chicken, or kalbi beef. Highly recommend the meat jhun because the beef is thinly cut, the egg sticks to the meat, the beef to egg ratio is perfectly balanced for a nice crispy-chewiness, and it is so ono-licious with or without the dipping sauce. Other places unfortunately make their meat jhun too thick and chewy where the beef is too wide with fat still on there in the middle of the cut and with the egg not sticking to the beef. Soon’s Kalbi makes meat juhn the right way!

In addition to the protein portions, Soon’s plate lunches include two scoops of rice, mandoo, and veggies (i.e., kimchee, bean sprouts, and cabbage). The veggies are so good – nice and warm mix of spicy kimchee and pickled bean sprouts and cabbage. You can also request to have them switch out the rice and replace it with all veggies if you want.

My personal favorite is the meat juhn mix combo – it includes both bbq chicken and meat jhun. It’s the best on the island! Trust me! You’ll thank me for it. Check out the menu and images below.

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